Government officials installing audio surveillance systems on public buses

The era of private conversations on city buses — and even on San Francisco’s iconic streetcars — may be coming to an end.

Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily. Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.

Linked to video cameras already in wide use, the microphones will offer a formidable new tool for security and law enforcement. With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus.

But the deployment of the technology on buses raises urgent questions about the boundaries of legally protected privacy in public spaces, experts say, as transit officials — and perhaps law enforcement agencies given access to the systems — seem positioned to monitor audio communications without search warrants or court supervision.

“This is very shocking,” said Anita Allen, a privacy law expert at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s a little beyond what we’re accustomed to. The adding of the audio seems more sensitive.”

In San Francisco, for example, transit officials recently approved a $5.9 million contract to install a new audio-enabled surveillance system on 357 buses and trolley cars over four years, with an option for 613 more vehicles. The contract, signed in July, specifies both modern buses and historic trolley cars.

Read more at The Daily

Comments

Polititainment

Ted Cruz loves 'The Simpsons'

Ted Cruz really likes "The Simpsons." The Republican presidential candidate detailed his fandom during an interview on The Federalist Radio Hour Thursday, spotlighting two of his favorite episodes of the cartoon television series.

Rubio asked to 'spit rap lyrics'

Marco Rubio, friend of Pitbull, fan of explicit 90s rap lyrics and Nick Minaj, and 2016 presidential candidate, has sadly declined an offer to perform his lyric-spitting talents on live TV.

Gwyneth Paltrow quits food stamps

According to the New York Post's Page Six, the actress has already dumped the food stamps challenge she agreed to last week, binging on two gourmet dinners in one night.

Maher: Obama should be a better bragger

The host of HBO's "Real Time" labeled the $1 million he donated to a pro-Obama Super PAC in 2012 -- an amount he won't ever give in support of Hillary Clinton -- a "great investment," commending the president on his accomplishments.

Tiny child weeps over Hillary 2016

When Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign yesterday, you were probably devastated. So was tiny Zeke here.

t u

2016

Perry knocks 'young' GOP foes ahead of 2016

The possible 2016 contender during remarks to reporters in Nashua, New Hampshire, Thursday compared declared GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio to President Obama in order to illuminate why the young senators aren't yet the right leaders for the White House.

Jeb Bush: 'I don't need to go to Chipotle'

While munching and mingling with fellow Republicans at the Snow Shoe Club in Concord, New Hampshire, Bush was asked whether he frequents the fast-food chain Chipotle, at which Hillary Clinton was photographed purchasing lunch earlier this week in Maumee, Ohio.

Cruz, Rubio, Santorum on attending a gay wedding

Which 2016 candidates--declared or otherwise--would attend the gay marriage of a loved one?

Hillary's 'Scooby' van is handicapped

No, Hillary Clinton is not handicapped at the ripe age of 67. However, that didn't stop the Democratic candidate for president from apparently sticking her "Scooby" van in a handicap parking spot while stopping at a cafe in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Thursday.

Hillary Clinton attacks CEO pay

The now-official Democratic candidate sent an e-mail to supporters following her campaign announcement that lamented the fact that regular Americans currently face economic difficulties "when the average CEO makes about 300 times what the average worker makes"

Policy

The TSA trained Disney World, SeaWorld

Disneyland, where dreams come true and TSA-trained employees are watching your every yawn and fidget and marking you down as a possible terrorist.

Marijuana: Not just for stoners any more

The media always loves to accompany stories about marijuana policy with bad puns and pictures of stoners.

Cruz, Rubio, Santorum on attending a gay wedding

Which 2016 candidates--declared or otherwise--would attend the gay marriage of a loved one?

Poll: Millennials financially optimistic

Crippling college debt aside, young people are feeling pretty good about their prospects of late.

Grassley: VA wrongly putting vets on gun ban list

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is demanding the Justice Department account for the fact that a “disproportionate” share of those on a “mental defective” gun ban list are veterans.