Big (Robot) Brother is watching you on Muni


So I'm not usually the paranoid type (I said usually), but this one is a little creepy: According to Fast Company, Muni is going to deploy a camera system that can detect criminal or potential terrorist behavior -- without a human being.

Not clear what happens when the cameras find something suspicious (and anyone who rides Muni knows that "anomalous behavior" is pretty standard fare). But I sense this could cause some trouble when over-anxious cops hyped on terror-watching charge into the tunnel to grab some guy who's pissing on the wall.

Unless the cameras decide that's "normal."



can fully support surveillance on those who do.

The innocent have nothing to fear.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

Everyone commits crimes. There are thousand of laws on the books and hundreds of thousands of non-legislative regulations. You can't piss without breaking the law.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

fully support random naked strip searches on those who do.

If you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear.

Posted by Greg on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

LE having rights. I am perfectly happy to have cops stop and search me at any time in any place because I have nothing to hide.

What are you hiding? And if these powers make most people feel safer, then why oppose that?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

antithetical to the American notion of the right to privacy. These cameras aren't too bad in my opinion but daily stop-and-frisks by the SFPD or any government authority are.

I don't believe you when you say you have nothing to hide. Until you accept 24-hour a day monitored video surveillance in every single room of your house, workplace and your car I'll believe you're up to no good. And even then I may have to ask you to submit to weekly polygraphs, urinalysis and blood screens - because we can never be TOO sure, now can we?

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

i welcome unfettered search if it keeps the bad guys away

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

Get cameras installed in your home and then let me watch them. Only then can we be safe from "the bad guys."

Posted by Troll II on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

Somehow I don't believe that you would be "perfectly happy" to have the cops stop and search you at any time and any place.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

All we're talking about is CCTV in a mode of transit which is routine anyway. What's the big deal?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

I welcome the new cameras. If they can catch and charge about half of those who sneak on without paying, the Muni might even show a profit for a change.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

On a muni train? Seriously you are in public on a public bus, you have zero expectation to privacy.

Posted by D. native on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

So if you're going to commit crimes, do it at home.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 4:10 am

when on a bus, train or in a station, but there is something very disturbing, very 1984-esque about this.

and regardless of privacy issues, is this really the best place for the MTA to be spending money? how about putting some money towards getting these buses and trains to run on time. I think if you asked the typical MUNI rider what their biggest concerns are, the lack of secret spy cameras would be very low on the list. You want to make MUNI safer, how about having a cop step onboard every now and then to deal with the nutjob who is stroking himself or the idiots with their magic markers tagging everything in sight?

Posted by DanO on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 7:21 am

loud and obnoxious behavior and a general feel of unease and trepidation is very much a big concern. Take certain routes at certain times of the day and you feel like a hostage to fortune.

So we don't want spy camera's for their own sake. But we want safe transit and the bad guys will be deterred, or hopefully caught, by these camera's while the rest of us won't mind either way being filmed, which is routine in malls, airports, building lobbies etc.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 7:36 am

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --- Benjamin Franklin

I'm going to change that a bit. My version:

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain *the illusion* of a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." --- Benjamin Franklin


From Wikipedia:

This was written by Franklin, within quotation marks but is generally accepted as his original thought, sometime shortly before February 17, 1775 as part of his notes for a proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly, as published in Memoirs of the life and writings of Benjamin Franklin (1818). A variant of this was published as:
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
This was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. (1759); the book was published by Franklin; its author was Richard Jackson, but Franklin did claim responsibility for some small excerpts (broken link since 2012-04-01) that were used in it.


People should read George Orwell's 1984. He was quite a prophet.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 11:24 pm

Its San Francisco this discussion is imperative,because being examined by the Federal Government while on the N. the L the K or any line on Muni feels like China to me. So yeah im innocent so get out of my free American face.While were at it Muni should pay us for filming us all day.Dont fix what isnt broken.Strip searching someone? that is just totally in humane,we are San Francisco and have a responsibility to be civilized and show love to all men.

Posted by Guest Joseph Clark on Jun. 08, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

"Its San Francisco this discussion is imperative,because being examined by the Federal Government while on the N. the L the K or any line on Muni feels like China to me."

You should have said Britain, not China. Britain has more surveillance cameras than China. I was googling and found a 2009 article that said that Britain has more surveillance cameras than China. Then I read an article saying that China was going to get more. Then I read this:

Google this title: Report: London no safer for all its CCTV cameras

"Civil rights group Big Brother Watch has accused Britain of having an out-of-control surveillance culture that is doing little to improve public safety.

London is considered the most spied-on city in the world, courtesy of its ubiquitous CCTV cameras, purportedly there to reduce crime. But according to a recent report, there's been little or no change in London's crime rates since they were more widely installed in the mid 1980s."

(As usual, the spam filter---UGH!---wastes one's time once again trying to post a comment because the spam filter will not allow the link or even a shortened link. I take it that the BG is never going to fix that. It really makes it not worth one's time bothering to post, especially if one wants to support what one is saying with a credible link.)

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2012 @ 2:44 am

CCTV camera's is just one variable among many. London has far more non-Brit's living there than 20 years ago, which could easily be a contrary factor.

And CCTV isn't just to deter crime but to identify, prosecute and convict offenders. So you'd need to look at how many times CCTV evidence helps with that to get a compelte picture.

I've spend time in London and felt safer with all those camera's around.

Posted by anon on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 7:18 am

I share your distaste for creeping big brotherism and its mindless boosters like anon.

Of course, practically everyone walks around with a camera nowdays and that joins with public cameras in suggesting one of the question: who gets to turn on, direct, and use the information from cameras?

London in particular has a vast camera array and it is in part justified by their congestion pricing system for driving downtown -- and idea which is more and more often being floated for San Francisco.

The SFBG spam filter seems to have a list of some sites which won't be allowed at all, and others which will be posted after the filling out a Captcha, I'm not sure why some of the sites are forbidden, but I think it always works to leave off part of the URL prefix "http://" (which the spam filter is now asking me to fill out a Captcha to be able to post!)

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 17, 2013 @ 8:56 am

I guess it's definitely better to be safer than sorry. It's time as a nation we become pro-active and not so much re-active.

Posted by Surveillance Cameras on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 5:49 am

Related articles

  • The Feds are watching -- badly

    The FBI's modern snoop program is racist, xenophobic, misdirected, dangerous -- and really, really stupid

  • Politics over policy

    Paid Sunday parking meters benefit drivers, businesses, and Muni riders. So why did the plan get killed?

  • Muni fare shakedown