UI student prompts bathroom camera bill on its way to becoming l - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI student prompts bathroom camera bill on its way to becoming law

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Photo courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa. Photo courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.

A bill that would ban bathroom cameras from government buildings has passed through the Iowa legislature and is headed to Governor Branstad's desk.

University of Iowa student Kellsie Pepponi prompted the bill with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa or ACLU. 

It all started when Pepponi used the restroom at the Iowa City Public Library and then noticed there was a camera inside of the bathroom. 

The cameras record the common areas of the library restrooms like the sink area for example. 

Pepponi was concerned when she saw the camera so she worked with the ACLU to ask the library to take them down. 

The library did not take the cameras down, which prompted SF 499 that would ban cameras from bathrooms in places like public schools, public libraries and other government buildings. 

KWWL spoke with the Iowa City Public Library about the cameras in January. 

Library Director Susan Craig told us the cameras are there for security reasons and are not monitored until after a crime happens. 

 "Things can happen in public restrooms and we want to be able to say to people we have done everything we can for your safety and security," Craig told us. 

There is signage outside of the bathroom doors letting people know that there are security cameras in use. 

The ACLU says it obtained some of the footage from the cameras through a simple public records request. 

"There is footage of a young girl changing her clothes, there is a woman basically sponging herself off you know doing basically a sink bath using the sink and paper towels," Veronica Fowler, ACLU Communications Director told us in January. 

Craig told us in an email last week that she is concerned about the bill becoming a law. 

"Yes, I am concerned, but we will comply with the law.  I believe the lack of cameras increases the possibility of crimes taking place in the space where people know they are not being observed," she says. 

If Governor Branstad signs the bill it will be enacted immediately, forcing the library to take down their bathroom cameras. 

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