Public buses in many cities have been capturing both audio and video recordings of drivers at all times on almost 300 Ride On buses.  The supposed reason for the system is to capture what drivers say.  However, the recordings also capture conversations of the passengers.

American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is Not Happy With Audio Recordings on Buses

These constant audio recordings have troubled civil liberties advocates.  They are concerned that people’s privacy rights are no longer a concern.  A staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland named David Rocah believes that passengers still have a reasonable expectation of privacy on a bus.  He stated, “people often have very private conversations in public if they think no one can hear them."

Invasion of Privacy

In the United States there are laws protecting privacy rights.  This includes public disclosure of private facts, appropriation of plaintiff’s identity for the defendant’s benefit, placing the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye, and unreasonably intruding upon plaintiff's seclusion.

Intrusion upon seclusion is an act of intruding into the seclusion of another that is objectionable to a reasonable person.  To prevail, the plaintiff must show that they have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.”  Generally, if you’re out driving on public roads, your privacy rights don’t protect anything you’re doing that is visible to the public.  However, when your privacy is invaded in your own home, you may have a valid invasion of privacy claim.

That being said, do you think there is a reasonable expectation of privacy on public transportation?

Which Cities Monitor Bus Drivers With Audio Recordings?

  • In October, the Baltimore Maryland Transit Administration began audio recording on some buses.
  • Buses and trains in San Francisco use video and audio recordings.
  • Buses in Atlanta are adding video and audio recordings.

What to Do if You Have Been the Victim of Invasion of Privacy

Privacy laws are ever changing.  Invasion of privacy is a serious issue and should be dealt with immediately.  It is best to speak to an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about privacy torts.  You can find experienced attorneys by searching under practice area within your state.

What do you think?  Are audio recording on public transportation an abuse of government power?  Is this sort of surveillance necessary?