To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

In Case You Needed Another Reason To Not Take MTA Buses and Trains...

This caught my eye on the news ticker during my morning walk to work:

The Maryland Transit Administration is considering installing audio surveillance equipment on its buses and trains to record conversations of passengers and employees, according to a letter sent by the MTA's top official to the state Attorney General's Office.

The letter, reported by the Maryland Politics Watch blog, seeks legal guidance on whether installing such equipment would violate Maryland's anti-wiretapping law. In his letter, MTA Administrator Paul J. Wiedefeld notes that the MTA already uses video cameras for security aboard its vehicles
I'm confused as to how recording conversation on a train or bus would do anything to improve the safety of passengers or drivers. This isn't to say that they don't need to do something to improve conditions on the trains in Baltimore (which must be far and away the largest and most concentrated MTA operation in the state), because they do, but I'm unclear as to how recording conversations would do accomplish anything different from the already installed cameras.

As for the reaction to the MTA letter...I'm curious as to why the public might see a difference between recording your image or recording your voice. 'Cause I don't see it. I'll save my long rant for a few days or so to see how the public reaction plays out; but my sense is that people feel as though it's more of a violation of their privacy to have a conversation recorded as opposed to an image with no sound. I suppose that might be correct; but the difference between cameras on every street corner, bus, and train and cameras with microphones on every street corner, bus, and train doesn't seem like a big one to me. We already handed over the rights, now we are just arguing over baby steps forward and back.

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