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The National Academies

TCRP J-05/Topic 17-02 [Anticipated]

Legal Implications of Video Surveillance on Transit Systems
[ TCRP J-05 (Legal Aspects of Transit and Intermodal Transportation Programs) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $43,750
Staff Responsibility: Gwen Chisholm-Smith
Fiscal Year: 2016

As technology has improved and costs have decreased, transit systems throughout the country have installed video surveillance systems in their buses, trains, and stations. TCRP Syntheses 90, Video Surveillance Uses by Rail Transit Agencies, and other compilations have highlighted the prevalence of video use by transit systems. The widespread use of such video surveillance systems has generated numerous legal issues, such as a system’s ability to utilize video to discipline employees, both union and non-union, safety issues associated with such use, public access to such video, and retention policies regarding video, among others.

Legal issues that should be addressed include:
 
What federal and representative state laws protect the privacy of those under surveillance, and what are the current practices employed to comply with those laws?
 
What federal and representative state laws provide for or deny public access to surveillance records and what are the current practices employed to comply with public access requirements in a cost-effective manner that protects privacy rights?
 
What federal and representative state laws affect audio portions of surveillance records and what are the current practices employed to comply with those laws?
 
What federal and representative state laws provide for the retention of such video and what are the current practices used to comply with these regulations?
 
What are the employment implications for using inward facing cameras that record the activities of operators and what are the current practices for addressing those issues?
 
What policies are in place to determine when employees must activate or are forbidden from deactivating surveillance equipment, what legal issues are raised by these policies, and what are the current practices for instituting and enforcing policies?
 
What are the implications of the employment of surveillance equipment, record retention practices, and public access requirements on tort litigation?

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