Seattle newspaper The Stranger reports:
If you're walking around downtown while looking at a smartphone, you will probably see at least one — and more likely two or three — Wi-Fi networks named after intersections: "4th&Seneca," "4th&Union," "4th&University," and so on. That is how you can see the Seattle Police Department's new wireless mesh network, bought from a California-based company called Aruba Networks, whose clients include the Department of Defense, school districts in Canada, oil-mining interests in China, and telecommunications companies in Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps wiring the city with high-tech, federally funded surveillance equipment is what Seattle mayor meant when he described the city’s budget as “a moral document. It puts resources behind our vision of the city we want to see.”
Apparently, part of those resources are coming from the federal government and they are earmarked for use to putting the city under the vision of the Department of Homeland Security.
When pressed for details about his department’s new monitoring agreement with DHS, Seattle Police Department Detective Monty Moss said he “is not comfortable answering policy questions when we do not yet have a policy,” as reported by The Stranger. The paper continues:
But, Detective Moss added, the SPD "is actively collaborating with the mayor's office, city council, law department, and the ACLU on a use policy." The ACLU, at least, begs to differ: "Actively collaborating" is not how they would put it. Jamela Debelak, technology and liberty director of the Seattle office, says the ACLU submitted policy-use suggestions months ago and has been waiting for a response.
It’s not just visitors and residents of downtown Seattle that will now be watched and constantly tracked by local and federal law enforcement, but people moving around the city’s busy port will be treated to the same surveillance. Again, from The Stranger:
Meanwhile, the SPD was also dealing with the port-camera surveillance scandal. That kicked off in late January, when people in West Seattle began wondering aloud about the 30 cameras that had appeared unannounced on utility poles along the waterfront. The West Seattle neighborhood blog (westseattleblog.com) sent questions to city utility companies, and the utilities in turn pointed at SPD, which eventually admitted that it had purchased and installed 30 surveillance cameras with federal money for "port security."
Seattle is only the latest metropolitan area to be caught in the web of DHS surveillance.
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Photo of downtown Seattle skyline