ACLU seeks removal of bathroom cameras at Iowa City library

Bathroom photo (WQAD photo)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is calling on Iowa City to remove security cameras that record inside the bathrooms of its popular downtown public library.

In a letter Friday, Jan. 13, ACLU legal director Rita Bettis told city officials that the cameras that record common areas of the restrooms raise serious privacy concerns. She said that if removing them isn’t feasible, the library should give notice to patrons that cameras operate inside the restrooms and recordings are subject to disclosure under the open records law.

The group is assisting a University of Iowa sophomore who believes the cameras violate her privacy.

City officials told the student that the cameras were legal because patrons don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in common areas. They say the cameras aren’t actively monitored and footage is deleted after seven days.

In 2013, the ACLU used an open records request to obtain footage showing library visitors getting dressed and changing clothes. Bettis says the library may have less intrusive methods to prevent theft.