Hot on the heals of my earlier post on the subject, I have just received the news that following the publication of the report in The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland Transit Authority have pulled the proposal to use audio surveillance on their buses.
However, an interesting thing to note in this supplementary report by transport correspondent, Michael Dresser, on the paper’s blog, is that the proposal apparently came about because CCTV cameras these days come with sound-recording built in, and that other transit authorities in Cleveland, Denver and Chicago use it. The MTA administrator responsible for seeking the legal opinion on audio surveillance is quoted as saying “It’s something that’s becoming the standard of the industry.”
So, if I am reading this right here, important policy decisions that have major implications for privacy are being treated simply as technical issues because the technologies that are being purchased have the capabilities. It’s only in this case because the MTA sought a legal opinion that we know at all, let alone that anyone objected. So how many other transit, police or urban authorities or commercial venues in how many places are now regularly using the audio capabilities of cameras without ever having considered that this might be a problem? And what other built-in technical capabilities will simply be used in future simply because they are available? What about the Terahertz Wave scanning that I covered earlier on?