A Democratic State senator from Baltimore County is taking a dim view on a controversial policy to allow audio and video recordings on public buses, and the Maryland General Assembly's rejection of a bill he sponsored that would have ended the practice.
Sen. Jim Brochin, a Towson Democrat, compared the practice to the Soviet Union and North Korea and said it should be stopped.
"I think it clearly crosses the line, and we better find the line now, because if we don't then government will find that line for us and that's exactly what they're doing now," Brochin said in a Reason TV interview published on YouTube. "They're defining the line, and government shouldn't be defining the line. The people government represents should be defining the line."
Currently, the Maryland Transit Administration operates about 758 buses. Of those, about 334 are equipped to record video and audio. The remaining buses have video-only recording capabilities.
By this summer, the administration expects have the audio surveillance function turned on in 158 buses, according to a fiscal note prepared by the state Department of Legislative Services.
Brochin was the sponsor of a bill that would have ended the practice, which he said is an invasion of privacy.
The bill ultimately died.
"That bill had to be killed," said Del. Melvin Stukes, a Baltimore City Democrat.
A number of states have allowed similar surveillance systems on their transportation systems.
"What makes Maryland so different that you want to stop and take a tool away from me?" Stukes said in the video.
The discussion comes as the Wikileaks trial of Bradley Manning continues at Ft. Meade and the revelations of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden regarding the collection of cellphone and email data by the United States Government.