Seattle spends five years failing to come up with a privacy policy for its $3.6m surveillance network, then spends $150k ripping it out

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Five years on, the police and city were unable to articulate an answer to these questions, and so now they’re spending $150,000 to tear all the gear (including the mesh networking access points) out, rather than accept any limitations on their use.

What would we prefer?

  • Surveillence ho!
  • Equipment provider must work for free?
  • Mayor must pay out of pocket?

I don’t see a better alternative, although I must admit the outrage is fun. Make Milo Yiannopoulos pay for it!


As the Times notes, “the mesh 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 city government shouldn’t be doing that, they should leave it to private enterprise like Starbucks. /s

Isn’t the real problem that phones give away too much information for trackers?

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Am I missing something? Why isn’t one of the options to remove the cameras but keep the wireless mesh? After spending 3.6 million it’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


It could be that the access point and location/CCTV surveillance are all a single device in which case you’d have to trust that those aspects of the system could be shut down and no one would turn them on for a quick peek occasionally.

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All in all, even with the added expense it’s not the worst outcome I can imagine.


Do something difficult for the public good? You must be one of those wackos from the People’s Republic of Fremont! :wink:


Yes it is. Some tried to warn about all those babies when, post 9/11 the Penguin and his cronies at DARPA started setting up and spec’ing out the Department of Fatherland Security, but nobody would think of the children then…

There are better mesh nets to come, and they won’t have strings attached. This mesh is engineered for two or more purposes, and is paid for by the ones that aren’t in the public interest.

3.6MM is cheap if we’ve learned anything from it, or any precedent has been set.


“This situation is a perfect example of how government always takes from the people.”
Maybe always isn’t the best word here, gov’t can and has also helped people.


Why isn’t one of the options…

Because I didn’t think of it?

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Thank you, that is what I came to say. And also, there is no they, there is only we, we elect, we communicate our desires to the officials we elected. Sometimes we, or some portion of us, make mistakes and the money is not well spent. If we want it to be different, we need to work together to make it different.


That wasn’t meant as criticism, it didn’t seem to be an option for the decision makers, which is what I thought you were reflecting. Other people here have made good points as to why they didn’t consider it.

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Take out the lenses.

since government does not create wealth, they take it from the people

Where does that idea come from? Governments invest money in the economy; in things like infrastructure, social spending, and in many countries direct equity investment. This creates wealth for both the private and public sectors. Governments “take” money in the sense that they levy taxes, but devote a considerable amount of it to “developing” the economy. These policies aren’t always well thought out, but they open frontiers for growth. That is the role of government in capitalism. The people who don’t create wealth are speculators, who drive up monetary value without actually creating anything of actual value.


Video surveillance privacy policies already exist for many institutions and organizations. It’s not hard to read a few and tailor one for your city based on others that have been implemented. Sheesh.

This situation is a perfect example of how government always takes from the people. Anything they provide to the people was originally taken from pockets of hardworking Americans.

Overgeneralize much?

Municipal broadband has an excellent record on cost effectiveness, security, and prosperity promotion relative to the (apparently preferred by the author of the above) private sector alternatives. Baby, bathwater?

So they went for the Centurion package?

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