Buses In Maryland Are Recording Riders' Conversations

The Maryland Transit Administration has been using audio surveillance for nearly four years and lawmakers want to make a change to limit their eavesdropping.

In Maryland, public transit users’ privacy is being invaded by a device installed on buses that records conversations.

Apparently, the Maryland Transit Administration has had audio surveillance since 2012. More than 60 percent of its buses are equipped with the devices which are constantly recording.

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Lawmakers are trying to implement legislation that would require the recorders only to be activated during a public safety incident or emergency situation, Gawker reports.

“What [the Maryland Transit Administration] is doing is a mass surveillance,” Democratic State Senator Robert Zirkin reportedly told the Washington Post.

“I find it outrageous,” he added. “I don’t want to overstate it, but this is the issue of our generation. As technology advances, it becomes easier and easier to encroach on people’s civil liberties.”

It is common knowledge, nationwide, that buses are typically equipped with video cameras, but it’s largely unknown that sound is involved. You can bet that if this is happening in Maryland, other states’ transit services are using the same equipment.

While the audio recording system may be deemed as a safety tool and crime deterrent, it’s actually a huge invasion of privacy — especially considering the sound is always recording.

The proposed legislation would require the devices to be installed near a bus driver’s seat so they can control them and activate them when necessary. This has raised some questions amongst other officials who are concerned about the costs associated with retrofitting or replacing the equipment.

Despite the fact that money is proving to be a concern, you can’t really put a price on citizens’ civil liberties. This surveillance system should never have been implemented in such a sneaky and invasive way to begin with.  

Banner Photo Credit: Wikimedia/ ETLamborghini

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