Seattle Dismantles Surveillance Camera Network

The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics said the network had the potential to track and log every wireless device that moved through its system.

Seattle’s wireless mesh network, a center of controversy about police surveillance and the role of federal funding in city policing, is coming down, the Seattle Times reports. Megan Erb of Seattle Information Technology said the city has budgeted $150,000 to remove dozens of surveillance cameras and 158 “wireless access points” — little, off-white boxes with antennae mounted on utility poles around the city. When the mesh network was installed in 2013 with $3.6 million from the Department of Homeland Security, the Seattle Police Department said it would be a valuable public-safety device for port security and first-responder communication during emergencies. The American Civil Liberties Union argued it was an apparatus for state surveillance.

Critics said the network had the potential to track and log every wireless device that moved through its system: people attending protests, people getting cups of coffee, people going to a hotel in the middle of the workday. The police department said the network would not be used until the city had a privacy policy, which never materialized. “This is one good, granular victory,” said the ACLU’s Shankar Narayan. “Suspicionless surveillance of general populations is not useful and chills people’s constitutionally protected rights.”

from https://thecrimereport.org