An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: A federal judge has been convinced by the FBI to block the disclosure of where the bureau has attached surveillance cams on Seattle utility poles. Ars Technica writes about how such a privacy dispute is highlighting a powerful tool the authorities are employing across the country to spy on the public with or without warrants. Ars Technica reports: "The deployment of such video cameras appears to be widespread. What's more, the Seattle authorities aren't saying whether they have obtained court warrants to install the surveillance cams. And the law on the matter is murky at best. In an e-mail to Ars, Seattle city attorney spokeswoman Kimberly Mills declined to say whether the FBI obtained warrants to install surveillance cams on Seattle City Light utility poles. 'The City is in litigation and will have no further comment,' she said. Mills suggested [Ars] speak with the FBI office in Seattle, and they did. Peter Winn [assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle] wrote to Judge Jones that the location information about the disguised surveillance cams should be withheld because the public might think they are an 'invasion of privacy.' Winn also said that revealing the cameras' locations could threaten the safety of FBI agents. And if the cameras become 'publicly identifiable,' Winn said, 'subjects of the criminal investigation and national security adversaries of the United States will know what to look for to discern whether the FBI is conducting surveillance in a particular location.'"