Welcome to the secret world of public transit spying 2018.
Soon, the public will have no way of knowing how many CCTV cameras a transit agency has and much more.
Two weeks ago the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering (NAS) asked Congress to make public transit safety records a secret.
Who is the FTA?
Since 2012, public transit agencies have been run by the the U.S. Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Which is really an arm of the TSA.
“The U.S. DoT/DHS Memorandum of Understanding Annex regarding public transportation security roles and responsibilities: this guiding agreement between FTA, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Grants & Training (G&T) establishes the inter-agency framework for the parties to collaborate on all matters pertaining to public transportation security.” (Click here to learn about NAS’s close relationship with DHS.)
Public scrutiny of transit agencies is a “safety risk”
According to the NAS report, the MBTA claims public scrutiny of their records is a SAFETY RISK!
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commented that “the current proposed rule, and related MAP-21 rulemakings, offer no clear forms of protection against public scrutiny or legal liability. This lack of protection can inhibit an agency’s ability to effectively conduct the safety risk management process and measure safety performance, if identified risks can be used against the agency in cases of legal liability.”
Transit agency claims they must have protections from public scrutiny and lawsuits.
Long Beach Transit commented that “in order to fully utilize the SMS for the purposes of proactively and reactively analyzing hazards, and evaluating and prioritizing safety risks, there must be protections against the use of this safety analysis from discovery and use in judicial proceedings.”
If Congress agrees, that public scrutiny of transit agencies should be a state secret. We can expect DHS to release redacted FOIA documents that look like this…
With DHS running the show, the public will have no way of knowing if they are being spied on.
To put this into perspective, there are at least 6,800 different transitagencies in America. With each state having thousands of different transportation programs. The state of Maryland has 5310 different transportation programs.
Which means that thousands of transportation records in every state could soon become a state secret.
Recent transit spying cases reveal the need for public scrutiny.
Two years ago I warned everyone that DHS gave the NJ Transit Authority $3 million to install CCTV cameras with microphones.
Last year a class action lawsuit claimed that California’s Public Transit police were secretly spying on commuters texts and emails.
While BART and ELERTS “represent that the app is a ‘discreet’ way of reporting issues…the defendants actually programmed the app to secretly collect transit users’ unique cellular identifiers, periodically monitor users’ locations, and track the identities of anonymous reporters,” the lawsuit claims.
And in August I warned everyone that the TSA wants to install facial biometric scanners at train stations across the country.
Last week I warned everyone that DHS is installing CCTV cameras at bus stops in Virginia with plans to expand nationally.
So what is the real reason transit agencies are trying to keep safety records from the public?
The real reason might surprise you.
“Transit agencies expressed concern that this information, although collected with the objective of improving public safety, could be used against them as evidence, exposing them to significant financial liabilities.”
The public can’t sue transit agencies if they don’t know how they are being spied on. (Click here to see how sports teams are doing the exact same thing.)
Close your eyes and change the name from ‘Airport Security’ to ‘TSA Transit Police’ because that is what will happen if we allow transit agencies to turn their safety records into a state secret.
In the span of seventeen years, we have seen DHS transform America into a police state. Do you really want to let our government turn public transit into the TSA?