Monday, November 5, 2012

City-wide Surveillance On Baltimore City Buses

I'm feeling safer already, aren't you?!? - Nancy

Baltimore announces city-wide surveillance roll out that records passenger conversations on city buses

J. D. Heyes   Nov 5, 2012

The surveillance society continues to grow unabated, as the city of Baltimore becomes the latest governmental entity to trample civil rights in the name of “public safety.”
According to the Baltimore Sun, city officials have now authorized the recording of private conversations on public buses “to investigate crimes, accidents and poor customer service.”
Marked with signs to alert passengers that open mics are picking up every word they say, the first 10 buses with the new surveillance equipment began operation towards the end of October. Eventually, officials say they will expand the program to 340 buses, or about half the fleet, by next summer.
‘We want to make people feel safe…’
The paper said the audio surveillance will be incorporated into the video surveillance systems already on board the buses (no plausible explanations on how an audio capability is supposed to enhance video surveillance, either).
“We want to make sure people feel safe, and this builds up our arsenal of tools to keep our patrons safe,” said Ralign Wells, the Maryland Transit Administration chief. “The audio completes the information package for investigators and responders.”
At this point, it’s appropriate to remind readers that “public safety” is the excuse of choice for authoritarians who no longer feel constrained by the Constitution. But then, why would they, considering they are being enabled by a federal court system that, time and again, upholds such blatant violations as “reasonable?” The MTA said it first checked with the state Attorney General’s office on the legality of adding audio surveillance; the AG’s office said it was, based on a 2000 appeals court decision, in which a panel ruled such surveillance did not violate state wiretapping laws (no word on how public eavesdropping applies to a law regulating wiretapping, but the use of tortured logic to implement unconstitutional measures is not a new tactic to authoritarians).
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