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article imageSeattle police install NSA-worthy spying apparatus

By Cameron Christner     Dec 2, 2013 in Politics
Despite the recent Snowden revelations and the massive response thereof, the Seattle Police Department, in accordance with and funded by the Department of Homeland Security, has seen fit to pepper the city with devices capable of NSA-level spying.
These devices, mounted on light posts and utility poles throughout the city, are capable of accessing any device connected to the Internet that comes within their fields, effectively allowing Seattle police to snoop on the city’s more than 635,000 residents.
While the “mesh networks,” as they are called, were reportedly meant to be used by police to share information more efficiently, it has since been confirmed that this new equipment can do much more than send and receive digital material.
In effect, the devices can access and take data from other Internet devices without the user’s consent, or even knowledge that the phone in their pocket is silently sending data to the police.
The types of data collected includes, but is not limited to, the user’s IP address, the apps they have used, current location, and even the user’s previous whereabouts up to the last 1,000 places they have visited, using GPS tracking.
Since the release of this information through an insider government source to, there has been widespread public outrage, both from Seattle residents and civil libertarian organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU.
The SPD has admitted that it does not yet have a policy to govern their new spying capabilities, and further claims it is “actively collaborating” with the ACLU to maintain civil liberties. However, the Union soundly denounces that claim, saying the police have not been in contact with them. Jamela Debelak of the ACLU even went so far as to say, “We definitely feel like the public doesn’t have a handle on what the capabilities are. We’re not even sure the police department does.”
Police have responded to the public concern by promising to deactivate the networks, but some sources claim that many devices are still active, contrary to Police Chief Jim Pugel’s deactivation order.
Despite this gesture of goodwill, many questions still remain unanswered. For example, the DHS has come under fire for financing yet another controversial purchase in the name of security. The $2.6 million granted to the SPD has been branded a misuse of government finances, both by the ACLU and other government-accountability organizations.
Also, it has been found that the SPD violated city ordinances, requiring any equipment to be used for surveillance to be approved by the city council before it’s installed. Obviously the police did not do that, and the programs would have likely gone unopposed had not a brave citizen blown the whistle on the secretive program.
More about Nsa, Spying, USA, PRISM, Obama
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