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The Government Is Installing Audio Surveillance On Public Buses

By / 12.17.12

Ask anybody who’s ridden on the bus on a regular basis can attest, there are many conversations that you overhear, most of which you wish, desperately, that you could unhear. And now your tax dollars are going to some poor shmuck who has to sit and listen to all of it because…terrorists, we guess? Maybe?

The Daily reports that several cities, including San Francisco, are adding audio surveillance to their bus systems.

The Lane Transit District in Eugene, Ore.; the Bay Area Transportation Authority in Traverse City, Mich.; the Central Ohio Transit Authority in Columbus; CT Transit in Hartford; and Athens Transit in Athens, Ga., have also been pursuing similar systems, documents show. The Maryland Transit Administration, which serves Baltimore, announced a bus recording system last month. The agency started recording audio on 10 public buses, with plans to expand the system to 340 more. Each bus uses six cameras. A recorder stores 30 days of data, the Baltimore Sun reported.

In theory, these systems could be coupled to, say, facial recognition systems to easily track who’s riding the bus. Needless to say, this raises some fairly serious concerns among privacy advocates, considering it’s basically a massive intrusion into your relatively private conversations.

It’s also a huge waste of money. We took the liberty of going to Overheard In New York (a city you might notice is not, so far, investing in one of these systems) and finding a few samples of things they might overhear…

Bus driver: (to passenger standing near door) are you getting off?
Random old man: (mutters) I don’t like those two words, “getting off.”

Yuppie guy #1: I think we have to go over the bridge before we can get off.
Yuppie girl: I never go to brooklyn, I prefer to stay in chelsea or the west village. I dont even like to go to les. Too divey.
Yuppie guy #2: You dont like to slum it?
Girl: No im not into slumming it in the les.
:: they all laugh::
Yuppie guy #1: (whispering) I hear where we are going is near the marcy projects.
Yuppie guy #2: (as the train starts to go over the bridge) yeah, I heard that too. There are just too many graffitied walls around here for my comfort.

Dude #1: I am so hungover right now.
Dude #2: Me too dude.
Dude #1: Come to think of it, I think I am still drunk.
Dude #2: Me too, this is going to suck.
Dude #1: Know what? Im ready for this shit. I mean im drunk but I feel totally ready for work. I mean, I could do math right now. Give me any math problem and ill do it. Algebra, geometry, doesn’t matter. I might be drunk, but I can definitely do math.
Dude #2: I just got the most amazing book ever.
Dude #1: Yeah? What is it?
Dude #2: Its called the truth about chuck norris and its just allll chuck norris jokes.

If the FBI agent who has to filter these conversations can weigh in, please drop us a line. We expect you’ll be getting a lot of gems like this.


TAGSpublic transitsurveillancewaste of taxpayer money

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