WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

MTA Expanding Audio Recording On Buses Over Privacy Objections

Play associated audio
Half the MTA Maryland fleet of buses will be equipped with audio recording equipment by the end of the year.
MTA Maryland
Half the MTA Maryland fleet of buses will be equipped with audio recording equipment by the end of the year.

The Maryland Transit Administration is recording conversations between bus drivers and passengers, which is prompting critics to peg the audio recordings as violations of privacy.

The MTA began recording audio on 10 buses in Baltimore this week, with plans to expand to half the fleet by next summer. The agency runs local buses in the Baltimore-Washington area with commuter routes serving outlying communities. The buses are already equipped with video cameras that sport microphones — they just have to be switched on.

The state attorney general's office says the addition of audio doesn't violate Maryland's wiretapping law, but attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union say bus riders shouldn't have to sacrifice their privacy rights.

The audio recordings are an attempt to increase commuter safety, says MTA information officer Terry Owens.

"We were convinced that this additional tool would help us better safeguard our system, so we have this system in place on ten of our buses, testing the technology to make sure it's effective," he says. 

There are signs on the buses letting riders know they're being recorded. But the American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney David Rocah says recording the conversations violates riders privacy rights.

"I don't think public transit riders should have to give their legitimate expectation of privacy and their ability to have a private conversation as a condition of riding a bus," Rocah says. 

MTA says the state attorney general's office says that there is no legal expectation of privacy on public buses, but some state legislators are ready to take up the issue in the next general Assembly, the ACLU says. State Sen. Brian Frosh says the General Assembly will most likely set standards for oversight and accountability.

NPR

'Neither Snow Nor Rain' Celebrates History Of U.S. Postal Service

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with author Devin Leonard whose new book, Neither Snow Nor Rain, celebrates the history of the U.S. Postal Service.
WAMU 88.5

Should Local Restaurants Retire The Phrase, "Farm To Table?"

Where does Washington restaurant food really come from? Kojo explores how the phrase "farm to table" is used and discusses whether it should be retired altogether.

WAMU 88.5

The Results Of Tuesday's Indiana Primaries

Senator Ted Cruz drops out of the presidential race and Senator Bernie Sanders wins Indiana. Guest host Lisa Desjardins talks with a panel of guests about what Tuesday's primary results mean for the 2016 presidential race.

NPR

Not Just Bitcoin: Why Blockchain Is A Seductive Technology To Many Industries

From bank regulation to military messaging, blockchain is offering a wide potential to change the way online transactions and communications are carried out.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.