When you think of the surveillance state, you probably think of the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security. You probably don’t think of the Maryland Transit Administration. And yet the latter agency has been installing cameras and listening devices on its buses for years. Yesterday the Maryland Senate advanced a bill to put some limits on how that hardware can be used.

The Washington Post has some background:

MTA began using recording devices inside some of its buses in 2012, without seeking legislative approval. Nearly 500 of its fleet of 750 buses now have audio recording capabilities. Officials say the devices can capture important information in cases of driver error or an attack or altercation on a bus.

Under the bill, recording devices would have to be installed near a bus or train operators’ seat. The devices would be controlled by the driver and could be activated only in the event of a public-safety incident….

This is the fourth time in four years that the bill to limit the recordings has been introduced. Previous pieces of legislation have never made it out of committee, but [the Senate Judicial Proceedings] committee unanimously approved it this year.

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