Imagine walking out your front door, only to have your every step monitored, tracked and cataloged by the government. Sounds like something straight out of a 1984 style Sci-Fi movie right? Wrong!
What was once the work of Science Fiction is now becoming reality in Seattle, Washington — which could be the first test city in the Department of Homeland Security’s bid to track every person in the country.
News Station KIRO 7 in Seattle, Washington broke the story back in 2013, but for some reason have since removed the video from their website. In that report, city council member Bruce Harrell told KIRO 7 News that some of the information picked up by wireless access points is a necessary part of the system.
“While I understand that a lot of people have concerns about the government having access to this information, when we have large public gatherings like the situation like in Boston and something bad happens, the first thing we want to know is how are we using technology to capture that information,” Harrell said.
There is conflicting information about exactly how the Mesh System will connect to the Department of Homeland Security, and beyond the initial reports from when I first wrote about this story in 2013 there isn’t a whole lot of information out there on the program. But if you are wondering what the network looks like, here is a good video from Reason TV that shows the wireless boxes that are part of the DHS funded spy network in Seattle.
DHS WIRELESS MESH TRACKING GRID: What we do Know.
Seattle’s new wireless mesh-network project, designed by California-based company Aruba Networks, is able to track and store the last 1,000 places you visited.
The system, which was funded by the Department of Homeland Security, works by tracking your every movement through the electronic devices you’re carrying. Cell phones, tablets and laptop computers all have a unique media access control (MAC) address; this identifier allows the mesh network to literally track your every move. The mesh network includes 160 wireless access points that are mounted to utility poles throughout Seattle.
On the company’s website, they say this system can also tie into existing smart grids, traffic cams and wireless video surveillance systems; giving the government not only the ability to track your every move, but also giving them real-time, broadcast-quality video surveillance at 30 frames per second.
This mesh network is part of whole new level of surveillance that’s being put in place across the country. From the federal government’s plan to fill U.S. airspace with drones, to the fusion centers that have popped up in cities around the country, this system is just one more example of the federal government’s attempt to track and catalog every move you make.
Federal Judge Judge Blocks Seattle From Disclosing FBI Surveillance Info
According to ABC News, on June 13, 2016 a federal judge blocked Seattle from releasing information about surveillance cameras the FBI has placed throughout the city.
The Justice Department said that if the locations of the cameras are made public, the information could tip off investigation subjects that they are being monitored. The FBI had provided information about its use of the cameras to the city’s public utility, Seattle City Light, since 2013 under a promise of confidentiality, but only to prevent the cameras from being removed or destroyed by utility workers, the Justice Department said.
The FBI has ceased sharing that information with the utility because of possibility the city will make the information public, the Justice Department wrote.
“The FBI’s use of the pole camera technique is a powerful tool in FBI investigations of criminal violations and national security threats,” the Justice Department’s lawsuit said. “Disclosure of even minor details about them may cause jeopardy to important federal interests because, much like a jigsaw puzzle, each detail may aid adversaries in piecing together information about the capabilities, limitations, and circumstances of (the) equipment’s use, and would allow law enforcement subjects, or national security adversaries, to accumulate information and draw conclusions about the FBI’s use of this technology, in order to evade effective, lawful investigation by the FBI.”