City After City, Buses Are Being Bugged by Big Brother

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
12/21/2012
       
City After City, Buses Are Being Bugged by Big Brother

If you ride public transportation, watch what you say. In city after city, transit authorities are installing sophisticated surveillance equipment to record every word spoken by riders.

If you ride public transportation, watch what you say. In city after city, transit authorities are installing sophisticated surveillance equipment to record every word spoken by riders.

An article published by Wired reveals that buses and subways around the country are being equipped with the spy apparatuses.

Where are so many cities — many of which are notoriously suffering from budget shortfalls — getting the money to monitor citizens? The Department of Homeland Security.

According to a story from The Daily cited in the Wired report, DHS is sending grants to municipalities to pay for the purchase and installation of the surveillance equipment.

“In San Francisco, the Department of Homeland Security is funding the entire cost with a grant. Elsewhere, the federal government is also providing some financial support. Officials in Concord, N.C., for example, used part of a $1.2 million economic stimulus grant to install a combined audio and video surveillance system on public transit vehicles, records show,” writes Michael Brick in The Daily.

Surveillance stimulus. From Fusion Centers to the Buffer Zone Protection Program, Homeland Security is setting up the preliminary infrastructure that will support the conversion of states and cities into nothing more than administrative outposts of the federal government’s domestic spying center.

Government use of these recording devices seems to infringe on the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches (including of conversations) without probable cause. The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Additionally, when combined with GPS data sent by the buses to remote servers, passenger locations and movements can be tracked by those with access to the data received from the microphones and cameras mounted in the buses.

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