Protocols for surveillance data under development in Seattle

Here’s an email I wrote to Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, who chairs the Committee of Public Safety, Technology, and Civil Rights:

Dear Councilmember Harrell,

Thanks so much for all the work you’re doing to address police accountability, the gender pay gap issue, and equitable access to broadband in the city, among so many other issues.

Quick question: In March of this year, Council passed ordinance 124142, which called for the creation of written protocols for City-owned surveillance equipment. The legislation required programs running previously deployed surveillance equipment — specifically, the Alki “Port Security Cameras” — to provide written protocols for their use within 30 days of the passage of the ordinance.

I searched the Council site and the Committee for Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology’s recent agendas, but I didn’t see any mention of these protocols under discussion, and was just wondering if you could provide an update about their progress and when the public might hope to have a peek at them.

Thanks very much,

Jan Bultmann
Seattle Resident
Member, Seattle Privacy


Today I got a very encouraging response from a member of CM Harrell’s staff, who wrote that the committee is working with SPD and ACLU on draft protocols for the Wireless Mesh Network cameras. The staff person said, “The document is still subject to further changes and will go before the Public Safety Committee for public discussion. The most recent meeting with ACLU and SPD was on Wednesday, 7/17.”

I’m very glad to hear about this, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for the protocols on the Public Safety Committee agendas for when the draft comes out for public review.

Meanwhile, we’ve updated our map (see right) of the mesh network to include the nodes along third and fourth avenues, and we’re planning to get the latest batch to go up in along Rainier Avenue on the map as soon as we can.

As co-founder Phil Mocek has reported, the government-owned cameras are a fairly small slice of the overall camera pie: There’s also a program in Seattle called Seattle Shield, in which Seattle PD exchanges information with more than 100 private entities. You can read more about Seattle Shield here:

Phil’s efforts to discover who all is in Seattle Shield through FOIA requests here:

Or, see a video of a federal officer harassing Phil on the sidewalk yesterday here:

If you zoom in on our map at right you can see the exact location where this took place: the federal building.




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