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

Five years after activists forced Seattle's mayor to return the city's surveillance drones to their manufacturer, the city has announced that it is terminating its warrantless mass-surveillance program altogether.

The DHS gave the city a $3.6m grant to build out a mesh wireless network that could be enjoyed by the public and also provide communications services during emergencies -- but it was also specced to do continuous location-based surveillance as well as CCTV surveillance from lightpoles all over the city.

Activists worked with the ACLU to pressure the city to work with police to produce a privacy policy that would explain when this data would be gathered, how long it would be retained, and how it would be used. The devices were switched off while these questions were to be answered.

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.

However, despite the victory of having the city remove the devices, it should be noted that the cost to take down the equipment will come from taxpayers. This means the taxpayer is penalized twice. First, the federal funding from DHS comes from taxpayers’ pockets (since government does not create wealth, they take it from the people). Next, the public expresses their concern and opposition to the equipment, forcing the local government and police to abandon their plans. Finally, the taxpayers will now foot the bill to have the invasive equipment removed. 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.

Seattle to Remove Controversial City Spying Network After Public Backlash [Derrick Broze/Activist Post]

(via /.)

(Images: Ron Clausen, CC-BY-SA; Cydia, CC-BY)

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