The Seattle Police Department is teaming up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms to bring yet another surveillance technology to Seattle. For several years, SPD has been considering an Acoustic Gunshot Location System and is being courted by ShotSpotter, LLC, which has cornered the market on this technology.
Now General Electric is developing a cheaper, integrated acoustic monitor in their next-generation streetlight which can interface with ShotSpotter’s audio surveillance system with the stated purpose of locating gunfire within dense, urban areas.
The Seattle Privacy Coalition has worked with the city in the development of a privacy protecting ordinance and a process for evaluating the impact of new surveillance technologies. We’ll be watching this new technology and offering criticism of its potential privacy impacts, especially when it’s being pushed by a government agency that has already circumvented the public process by installing surveillance cameras in the Central District with the help of Seattle City Light.
We’ll be asking the city’s new Chief Privacy Officer to perform and publish a thorough audit of all programs and purchases under SPD, and all MOUs or informal agreements SPD maintains with Federal agencies in accordance with the City’s privacy program.