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Big Brother Buses? Union, Bus Agency In Eavesdropping Fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — That nosy old woman across the bus aisle may not end up being the only one eavesdropping on conversations on northern Nevada's largest public transit system.

Washoe County's Regional Transportation Commission and the union representing its bus drivers are locked in a 2-year-old legal battle over whether expanding the audio reach of surveillance recordings on Reno buses amounts to surreptitious monitoring of passengers.

Lawyers for both sides said in court filings this past week that they don't see any way to avoid going to trial given their dramatic differences about the proper balance between privacy and security.

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Gary Watson, president of Teamsters Local 533, first notified the transportation agency in April 2014 that the new plan its commissioners approved six weeks earlier would violate state law prohibiting "unauthorized, surreptitious intrusion of privacy by the use of listening devices."