They came for bus riders but I don’t use the bus so …

Comrades terrorists can be anywhere!

Comrades, terrorists can be anywhere!

Public bus companies surreptitiously using microphones to record passengers.

Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations, according to documents obtained by a news outlet.

The systems are being installed in San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities with funding from the Department of Homeland Security in some cases, according to the Daily, which obtained copies of contracts, procurement requests, specs and other documents.

The use of the equipment raises serious questions about eavesdropping without a warrant, particularly since recordings of passengers could be obtained and used by law enforcement agencies.

It also raises questions about security, since the IP audio-video systems can be accessed remotely via a built-in web server, and can be combined with GPS data to track the movement of buses and passengers throughout the city.


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10 responses to “They came for bus riders but I don’t use the bus so …

  1. just_looking

    Is conversation in public places protected?

  2. Peg

    1984 all over again.

  3. AJ

    ‘‘Big brother’ lamp posts can hear, see and bark ‘Obey!’ at you’

    “…is “working with Homeland Security” to deliver his dream of making people “more informed and safer.”….”

    I’m feeling safer already, just hearing the news. After all, how’s the fourth amendment going to protect me: it’s just a piece of paper?

  4. AJ

    Making you safer: The very President, himself, gets right on it.

    ‘Empty Embrace… Hurricane Sandy Victim Upset After Being Played By Obama (Video)’

  5. db

    As all of us are walking around with a device that reports our exact location, has all our contacts and if tampered with properly, can report audio and video of everything we do……….bus mounted cameras are not one of my concerns these days.

  6. kc

    If my experience with public transportation is at all representative, good luck with that, snoopers. On my last streetcar trip, I heard much talk about local sports teams, two or three discussions about child rearing by people who appeared to still be teenagers, a couple of opinions on the infrastructure of the city and some sharing about favorite beers. There was also some guy who seemed a little incoherent. I usually enjoy the tortured descriptions of various scientific principles (often related to weather) but, strangely, no one even seemed too worried about that the other day. I did not hear a single scheme being hatched. Unless there’s some code being used or something, I think the eavesdroppers are going to be a little disappointed if they have to listen to that all day.

  7. db

    I know one of the bus drivers in Stamford. The cameras are mainly used to monitor the drivers and their interaction with the public. If they don’t follow the rules and it is caught on tape…… longer a bus driver. Since we are on camera the second we walk out our door these days, is this even worth a news story?

    • I do the see the irony in our volunteering to be monitored every minute of the day via our cellphones when, had the government demanded it, we would have screamed bloody hell. Interesting world we live in. Maybe we’re all living in John Prine’s “In a Town this Size” now.

      • kc

        I agree that this is a curious issue. Some well meaning people do seem a little worried about this but justify any concerns by believing that safety is enhanced somehow.(And, in fact, when my wife had some device from her work robbed from her on the street, the police had it back a day or two later. But it didn’t stop the crime or help my wife in a significant way.) Others, of course, put their confidence in the government and don’t believe that this information could ever be misused by those nice people and probably a majority don’t understand or even care as long as they have the convenience of the cellphone. Finally, there’s a smaller group of people who really do wonder about privacy. These people become used to being looked at with curious glances when they try to explain why the technology causes them a little concern. Unless there’s a dramatic change of attitude, privacy is in real trouble in this country.