A timely video from Reason TV on the surveillance state’s newest venture: Cameras and microphones on city buses, just in case Al Qaeda decides to plan its next attack on municipal transportation within earshot of other passengers. Not every city does this, but the practice is spreading — early adapters include San Francisco, Baltimore, and Hartford with funding from, you guessed it, DHS. It’s darkly amusing to think of someone on the bus in one of those cities, reading the news today about the NSA/Verizon warrant on their cell phone, and worrying that the state has their phone records. Who wants to tell that person that if they make a call while they’re on the bus, the government can also hear everything they say?
I don’t think this trend will turn around. I don’t think the public cares much about it, even if a video like this provokes an occasional shiver. Most people agree with Lindsey Graham, I suspect, that if you’re not up to no good, you have nothing much to worry about. They see how the Tsarnaevs were nailed in a few days thanks in part to surveillance video, they read stories about terrorists being tripped up by data-mining, they log onto Facebook/Twitter/Foursquare and volunteer personal information about themselves, and they conclude that if we’re already this close to a panopticon, why not go a bit further in the name of stopping criminals and saving lives? Maybe there’ll eventually be an abuse so egregious that it reverses the trend, or maybe some charismatic libertarian pol will change voters’ minds. I doubt it. Technology always wins.