by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 12th 2012 3:06am
We all know that law enforcement has been regularly expanding its ability to spy on people at every turn, especially with surveillance cameras installed all over the place. But it still seems a bit shocking to find out that many municipalities are installing systems on public buses that record both audio and video of everyone on the bus -- including in San Francisco. That doesn't just seem like overkill, it raises significant legal questions. California -- for better or for worse (and I'd argue, for worse) is a two party consent state when it comes to recording, meaning everyone has to know they're being recorded. So it seems like recording without getting consent should be seen as an illegal, warrantless form of wiretapping. Even more troubling: the reason San Francisco is doing this upgrade? The Department of Homeland Security paid them to do it. It gave them a grant covering the entire cost. Is Homeland Security really worried about drunks getting into a brawl on the bus? Or do they see this as an opportunity to do significantly more involved surveillance? The whole program seems pretty troubling, and yet more and more places are adding the devices, with little to no public recognition.
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