November 16, 2013
Following bombshell documents released by Storyleak and Infowars last Tuesday uncovering Seattle’s expansive $2.6 million Homeland Security funded mesh network surveillance grid, new documents hidden deep inside the 2012 proposal request (# DIT-2996) give even greater detail into the government’s ability to track and database virtually any person.
After local media began questioning the appearance of mysterious “off-white boxes” attached to utility poles in the downtown area, reports uncovered the mesh network devices’ ability to siphon off unsuspecting mobile user’s IP addresses as well as the last 1,000 locations visited. Storyleak and Infowars’ exclusive documents went one step further in revealing the vast amount of local and even federal agencies tied into the network’s information-gathering center.
A new file entitled the “Police Video Diagram” proves police officers’ ability to access and control live-video feed from the city’s expansive collection of surveillance cameras, all from the comfort of their police cruisers.
Although the diagram purports to be exempt from public disclosure, it has been revealed to be publicly available on the Seattle government website, rendering the exemption null and void as confirmed by Storyleak’s legal team. A section of a “specification spreadsheet” also confirms police vehicles’ access to city cameras as well.
The upper right-hand corner of the diagram specifies the company which supplied the in-car video viewing screens, Coban Technologies of Houston, Texas. The VMDT (Video Mobile Data Terminal) Gen II, likely capable of audio/video recording any live video feed accessed, was likely tied into the mesh network at a later time as their use dates back to 2007. A lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court by Fischer Broadcasting (Komo 4 News) in 2011 accused Seattle police of breaking state public records law by refusing to release “retained” video recorded with the Coban system.
The diagram and spreadsheet give even more validity to our earlier reports that showed multiple agencies having access to all cameras tied into the mesh network. One spreadsheet section asks that “outside agencies shown on the diagram” be given access and control of cameras tied into the mesh network, including the controversial Homeland Security-run Fusion Center, which was labeled a “useless and costly effort that tramples on civil liberties” by the United States Senate.
According to a February West Seattle Blog interview with Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh, no video footage collected can be kept for more than 30-days unless needed for criminal investigation purposes. The specification spreadsheet proposal asks for “at least 60-day archival recording capacity.”
While advanced security is to be expected at Seattle’s port, the mesh network nodes’ data gathering of residents in the downtown area has little to do with maritime security. Given Seattle’s “accidental” port surveillance camera placement earlier this year, which saw several of the city’s 30 port security cameras incorrectly faced in towards the city, few residents trust the government’s alleged claims about personal privacy, especially in light of their refusal to comply with a city ordinance requiring them to have divulged information on the network months ago.
Chief McDonagh also said the cameras do not have facial recognition capabilities, although Seattle’s secret participation in the TrapWire program, which used sophisticated facial recognition software ran through city CCTV cameras, leaves the question as to whether the mesh system’s camera access will be run through similar software programs at the whim of unknown federal agencies.
Following Tuesday’s breaking report, the Seattle Police Department announced only hours later that it would begin the mesh network “deactivation process,” but gave no indication of how long the process would take. According to Seattle Police Spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the network would be turned off until city council “approves a draft policy” and allows for “vigorous public debate.” Reports yesterday revealed that the network was in fact still operational, allowing them to continue tracking any mobile user in the vicinity. While no one should have an expectation of absolute privacy in public, warrantless access to mobile devices by local and federal agencies represents an undeniable violation. Given Seattle’s continued history of corruption, one questions why the department is being handed even more surveillance technology.
These revelations follow several reports breaking down the federal government’s roll-out of conversation recording microphones, including Intellistreets light fixtures capable of using “voice stress analyzers” as well as voice recording ShotSpotter “gun shot detectors,” currently being rolled out in cities as well as school classrooms. Other technologies like “crime prediction software,” which is supposed to predict where crime will occur down to a 500-square-foot area, has civil liberties activists questioning whether the system will begin targeting specific individuals.
As Seattle perfects its massive surveillance system, the technology is likely to replicate nation-wide as more and more mesh network nodes pop up across major cities. While these networks could positively benefit certain first responders, the federal government’s involvement gives extra assurance that the system will be used against law-abiding Americans, as it already has.
With Homeland Security’s blatant targeting of peaceful American citizens, such as their labeling of military veterans as the number one terror threat, opposition to the illegal spy grid takeover has become more essential than ever.
This post originally appeared at Story Leak