The Seattle Police Department purchased a “mesh network” in February that will be used by emergency responders to determine the IP address, device type, downloaded applications, current location, and historical location of any device with Wi-Fi.
According to The Raw Story, the network has the ability to store information for the previous 1,000 times somebody is connected with a certain device to access a Wi-Fi signal.
Jamela Debelak, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU), fears that police will use the network for more than just bringing together emergency responders.
“They now own a piece of equipment that has tracking capabilities so we think that they should be going to City Council and presenting a protocol for the whole network that says they won’t be using it for surveillance purposes,” Debelak told KIRO 7.
“Once these kinds of tools are in place, they don’t go away,” she continued. Even if we assume that the mesh network was installed by good people for good reasons, there’s no reason to believe that the people controlling the network in the future will use it for the public good.”
Seattle City Councilmen Bruce Harrell brought attention to the need for SPD to collect some information. “While I understand that a lot of people have concerns about the government having access to this information,” he said, “when we have large public gatherings like the situation in Boston and something bad happens, the first thing we want to know is how are we using technology to capture that information.
“The council made it crystal clear that before the ‘on’ button is turned on, before it’s being used they have to go to the public,” he continued.
The network was bought with a Homeland Security grant for $2.6 million, KIRO 7 reported.