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Friday, November 8, 2013

Can You See Me Now?

Posted by on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 10:56 AM

One of my favorite comments on this week's feature—about the Seattle Police Department's new wireless mesh network, what its surveillance capabilities might be, and why we don't have any regulations about it on the books yet—is right up at the top, where TomJohnsonJr simply writes...


... then links to a photo of a phone showing a mesh network router in the background and what is, presumably, a list of available networks that could be pinging his phone at that moment.


Speaking of photography, Malcolm Smith took some marvelous photos of the routers in different places around downtown Seattle for this week's feature. Here are some bonus shots that didn't make it into the print edition:

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith

  • Malcolm Smith


Comments (22) RSS

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I remain confused. Don't the police have to apply for permits or permissions to hang stuff on utility poles?
Posted by cracked on November 8, 2013 at 11:13 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 2
No, the city owns the poles.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 8, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
@2 So, the police can do anything with city property if there isn't an explicit rule saying they can't? That just seems strange to me. Does any other city department have that power? Or, do all the departments have that power? I guess my understanding of municipal government is deficient.
Posted by cracked on November 8, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
@1: What makes you think they didn't?
Posted by tiktok on November 8, 2013 at 11:31 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 5
@3 - Well, the city owns the poles, and the police union owns the city, so they can do pretty much whatever.
Posted by MacCrocodile on November 8, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Report this
This is kind of like right-wingers photographing drones and "FEMA camps."
Posted by Jizzlobber on November 8, 2013 at 11:47 AM · Report this
I can't wait to see the interpretation of what these devices are doing by paranoid stoners.
Posted by Jizzlobber on November 8, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
@4 Good point. I thought of it because the news reports are saying we have no procedure for this kind of surveillance, which made me conclude it was done with no procedure outside of internal police department decision making. But, if they did request and receive permission, I would think that would be part of the news story, unless they didn't need permission, or there is an explicit general rule already in place allowing police to hang up whatever, or they ignored whatever interdepartmental permissions that would be required and the utilities are too cowed to respond.
Posted by cracked on November 8, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
What news story? This is like reverse reporting. The scary conclusion and headline were written before the research was conducted. And now Brendan has to go and find the facts to support his conclusion.
Posted by Jizzlobber on November 8, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Clara T 10
It's settled - Malcolm Smith is the Ansel Adams of mesh network router photography.
Posted by Clara T on November 8, 2013 at 12:06 PM · Report this
What the implementation of Aruba Networks' mesh network (with DPI technology*) does is to shut down any future type Anonymous responses to unlawful, illegal (as courts in a number of other countries have ruled) actions by private corporations kowtowing to the US government against freedom of information and free press!

During the grassroots response against the Swedish government (promoted by the media moguls of that country, the Bonnier family) for their extradition against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, etc., computer users were advised to utilize wi-fi spots offered at various coffeehouses, cafes, etc., so as to avoid being ID'd by their device's MAC addresses.

(Technically, it is remotely possible to do this even if they are going through a commerical AP, or wireless router, but the level of technical expertise and resources required is rare and I won't be explaining this. Normally, if one sits away from any observing cams, or security cameras, and utilizes public access wi-fi, then they are anonymous, and helping Anonymous!)

The only ones who were butsed by the FBI and Europol were unfortunate individuals like the young lady who was a student at MIT and went directly through her dorm's cable access, or the young fellow who was a part-time worker at a Dutch ISP, and went through that ISP directly, etc.

With the Aruba mesh network in place, they can monitor those individuals entering and exit such public wi-fi access places, and do a temporal and geolocation analysis to discern who those people involved in such countermeasures are.

Recall how easily Paypal, then Visa, and other financial services firms quickly halted any transactions to WikiLeaks, plus how quickly locally based Tableau Software (837 North 34th Street, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98103, 206-633-3400, fax: 206-633-3004) pulled their database license after a phone call from the US gov't (which WikiLeaks had purchased from them) just as Amazon also pulled server usage from WikiLeaks, dramatically hampering its effectiveness.

Given the link below, just how secure is Aruba Networks?

I'm certainly not filled with confidence.…

*DPI: Deep packet inspection (DPI) is an advanced method of packet filtering that functions at the Application layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) reference model. The use of DPI makes it possible to find, identify, classify, reroute or block packets with specific dataor codepayloads that conventional packet filtering, which examines only packet headers, cannot detect.
Posted by sgt_doom on November 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
stinkbug 12
Not too exciting, but here's a photo back in March of them installing one of the units:…

Posted by stinkbug on November 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 13
These photos make me miss working in downtown Seattle. Didn't think that was possible...
Posted by Matt from Denver on November 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM · Report this
@8 Based on the photos seen they are attaching onto light poles, traffic lights, etc. They would have had to work out an attachment agreement with SDOT to do that (approved installers, safety, inspection, etc.) That's pretty standard.

They would probably not have gone through a formal planning/use review with DPD, however. Telecom sites have a defined review process (usually conditional use) but there are a lot of exceptions that public safety have built into the regs, so probably minimal paper trail there (admin at best.)
Posted by Action Slacks on November 8, 2013 at 12:49 PM · Report this
@10: Yes, this needs to be a Buzzfeed listicle: "The best collection of images of mesh network routers you'll see today!"
Posted by bigyaz on November 8, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
@15: great idea. Suggested headline edit -- "I cant' stop looking at these mesh network routers (and they can't stop looking back)"
Posted by Sevenwithoneblow on November 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
sirkowski 17
Stop chemtrails!
Posted by sirkowski on November 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 18
Look, if they can find three-fourths of a million dollars for Ed Murray they couldn't find for Mike McGinn, which part of Police State Seattle aren't you GETTING?

You're serfs.

Not Citizens.

They expect you to be sheep.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 8, 2013 at 6:56 PM · Report this
@14 thanks for the analysis

@18 gettin pretty blatant, isn't it?
Posted by cracked on November 9, 2013 at 4:01 AM · Report this
Jaymz 20
Agree that these are beautiful - and disturbing - photos; exactly what is needed to create the necessary focal point for discussion. If this is permitted, why not just insert a chip into each citizen so we'll always know where they are, "for their own safety, and the safety of society"? These are a good reason to keep the phone turned off unless calling out.... (or can they track a "dead phone" too? Wouldn't put it past the technology...)
Posted by Jaymz on November 9, 2013 at 10:54 AM · Report this
You fucking idiots realize that the mere presence of wifi networks is nothing sinister, right? Jesus. They've installed a communications network. Big fucking deal.
Posted by beef rallard on November 9, 2013 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Posted by beef rallard on November 9, 2013 at 7:35 PM · Report this

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