Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

InAPPropriate

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There might be an app for that but it doesn't mean there outta be a law.

Winnipegger Chris Johnson has created an app he claims could be used to report parking violations. Anyone with a smartphone could photograph violations and then use the app to forward them to "the city" -- whatever that means -- or to a parking lot operator in return for a share of whatever fines or towing charges that result.

As an idea, however, it falls under the category of "just because you could do it doesn't mean you should." It's no doubt true that every day there are parking scofflaws that don't pay for every minute they park, or even any of them. But the fines imposed for not doing so are there to deter such behaviour, they are not there to enrich app designers and a legion of app-armed bounty hunters. The idea that we would write law to empower snitches for a cut of the parking-ticket action is ludicrous. And it would require a law. Otherwise, every reported violation that was challenged could require the reporter to give their evidence in court at great expense. For parking tickets. The law, of course, could be written with a reverse onus clause that would spare bounty hunters inconvenience. But it's difficult to imagine a politician foolish enough to back a bounty-hunting law that pays out on a guilty-until-proven-innocent basis in the name of parking enforcement.

It clearly would be inAPPropriate.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 14, 2013 A12

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