Officials say the cameras help identify accidents, alert emergency authorities and help the public avoid long delays.
Then why do local governments need high-tech cameras that can pan, tilt or zoom, wonders Brown, the surveillance critic.
"If you need to passively observe traffic flows at an intersection, you don't need a camera with pan, tilt or zoom -- you can use a fixed camera," he says by phone from his New York City home. "It exceeds what they're trying to do with it. If the Department of Transportation wants to see if there's a traffic jam at a certain intersection, that is OK, but it seems that they should be limited to what kinds of cameras they're using, especially if they can peer into automobiles." *Blog entry author note: If this is possible, looking into homes flanking those roads has to also be possible.