Surveillance State Grows with Help from State and Local Government Accomplices

Thursday, June 7, 2018
By Paul Martin

by C. Mitchell Shaw
Thursday, 07 June 2018

The surveillance state — ever on the rise since 9/11 — is making plans to grow even bigger and dig even deeper into the lives of American citizens. And in this recent push for growth, the federal behemoth has accomplices in state and local governments.

Using the tool of federal funding with strings attached, the surveillance hawks in the federal government are rapidly expanding the surveillance state. Case in point: As part of an expansion of the public transit system in Richmond, Virginia, the placement of more than 100 live surveillance cameras is part of the development of a 7.6-mile section of the Greater Richmond Transit Company’s (GRTC) bus route.

The project — GRTC Pulse — was developed and funded through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the City of Richmond, and Henrico County. According to CBS affiliate WTVR, the cameras — four at each of the route’s 26 stops — were required by the federal government as a condition of helping fund the project.

As the Tenth Amendment Center wrote:

The federal government is in the process of using America’s transportation system as a platform to create a massive surveillance network. A recent announcement by a municipal transit authority in Virginia sheds light on this plan and exposes how the feds develop partnerships with state and local governments, along with private organizations, to spy on millions of Americans.

The Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC) recently announced plans to install more than 100 live surveillance cameras at stops along a rapid transit line. According to a WTVR report, GRTC plans to install approximately four cameras at 26 Pulse stops along Broad Street. The system will be live 24 hours a day and directly connected to the city’s 911 facility.

WTVR reported: “Officials said the federal TIGER grant used to fund the half of the project required installation of the camera system, but privacy advocates said the large number of live cameras in public spaces creates a major privacy concern.”

Using a play from a dogeared page in the playbook, the surveillance comes packaged as a “public safety” measure. Carrie Rose Pace, director of communications for GRTC, said the system will allow quicker response times to any problems arising along the route. She told WTVR, “It’s pretty standard for all B.R.T. (bus rapid transit) or light rail type systems,” adding, “You want to have security cameras at the Pulse station platforms. It ensures that we can provide safe and responsive customer service for any need that happens at the platforms.” She also said most PULSE loading platforms will be outfitted with four cameras and that the system will be live 24 hours a day and will be connected to Richmond 911 call center.

The privacy advocates who have expressed concern about this include representatives of the ACLU of Virginia. The ACLU’s Bill Farrar aptly described it as government-sanctioned surveillance and said, “There’s very little evidence that this type of surveillance enhances public safety, and there is every reason to think that it inhibits people — that it causes us to behave differently than we would if we weren’t being watched.”

The Rest…HERE

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