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FBI Says Utility Pole Surveillance Cam Locations Must Be Kept Secret (arstechnica.com) 224

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.'"
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FBI Says Utility Pole Surveillance Cam Locations Must Be Kept Secret

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:20PM (#52325339)

    Once we get a President who respects our rights, things will get so much better.

    I can't wait for an actual transparent administration!

    • Unfortunately the desk is stacked so that will NOT. Clinton is has no issue with not disclosing activities of the government (see her own email server for details :D). She didn't do anything during her term as Lady of the House, or as Secretary of State to affect Obama's increasing liberal policies when it came to warrantless surveillance, and Trump would tell people if the FBI/CIA wants it's the public should have it to protect us from the deadly "foreigners". Saunders was the only candidate who might give
  • Well, yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:21PM (#52325345)
    "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.' "

    If the public thinks they're an invasion of privacy, they are, by definition (since that indicates a public expectation of privacy), whether their location is disclosed or not. Big Brother Peter Winn is watching you.

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

    Peter Winn is arguing the latter.
    • Re:Well, yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:29PM (#52325699) Homepage Journal

      If the public thinks they're an invasion of privacy, they are, by definition (since that indicates a public expectation of privacy), whether their location is disclosed or not.

      Maybe, maybe not. The principle that there is no expectation of privacy in public places is pretty firmly established in the law. The fact that some members of the public don't think so doesn't change that. If, in fact, a large majority of the public feels like they should have an expectation of privacy on a public street then perhaps you have an argument, but it's probably one that should be made via the relevant lawmaking bodies, not something that courts should take it upon themselves to change.

      I do think that this is an aspect of the law that we should think seriously about changing. The approach that has been established over the last century or so was eminently reasonable in the past because there were natural obstacles that limited the amount of surveillance that could be done. It had to be restricted only to high-value targets because it was very expensive, requiring lots of people to do the watching and recording.

      Technology has changed that. Today it's feasible to establish comprehensive 24x7 surveillance of large areas, and to record all of it for on-demand analysis. In the near future it will be possible to build AI search systems that can quickly scan huge masses of stored surveillance data to search for specific people, or highlight particular actions. This means that a quantitative difference in the amount of surveillance that can realistically be done created a qualitative difference in the sort of surveillance that can be done, and how it can be used and abused. A qualitative difference that arguably means that actions in a public place *should* carry some expectation of privacy, even if it's just that the expectation is that only people who are present will observe them. Well, plus those who happen to be there and record them for some specific purpose, and maybe those with whom they share those recordings.

      That last sentence highlights that this is a really sticky question. If I happen to be doing something in a public street, and someone else is taking video of their kid riding their bike for the first time, and they happen to include me in the frame, and they post that video on YouTube, have they invaded my privacy? I don't think so. Saying that they have basically eliminates the notion of a "public place" entirely.

      But clearly there is a difference when some large entity records all actions in a large area at all times and archives them all for later use. What, exactly is the difference? How, exactly, do we draw the line?

      These issues are subtle, and these questions are not easy. I think courts should not be trying to decide them, so I think the court did the right thing in just applying existing precedent that there is no expectation of privacy in a public place.

      • Re:Well, yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:46PM (#52325789) Journal

        If the government believes that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy on these streets, then why do they seem quite angry when we suggest that the cameras they have installed on the streets also have no expectation of privacy?

      • Re:Well, yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:49PM (#52325803)
        "no expectation of privacy in public places" is a vast oversimplification. A National Park is a public place, and I believe the vast majority of the public would have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in the back country, especially if they looked around and didn't see anyone before they peed on a bush. Similarly, I think there can be a reasonable expectation of privacy even in an urban environment which is violated by a deliberately disguised/concealed camera. One reasonably expects to be able to see any watchers as well as they see them in order to make a determination of how private the situation is. The law recognizes this in other areas - you can look into someone's windows if you're standing in plain sight on the sidewalk, but you're a peeping Tom if you're hiding in the bushes (i.e. the subject couldn't be reasonably expected to know they were being watched). Why should government actions be any different?
        • Re:Well, yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @09:06PM (#52326241)

          Both of these points are well taken. However, let's turn the tables.

          What I'm about to suggest is something I've thought a lot about.

          Let's trade tit for tat.

          Let's let the cameras stay. Additionally, let's allow the public to view the cameras in public and record their presence to the public.

          Spying has always been a two way street.

          We see where citizens are recording police. That's fair. The police work for the public, and what they do is often in public view. Their salaries belong to the public. Their weapons, safety equipment and their actions while on duty belong to the public.

          The same applies to the FBI or the CIA or the NSA or a governor or a congressperson or a mayor or a street sweeper.

          Let's all spy on each other and call it even.

          • Yes, this is the "sousveillance" approach. It definitely has its advantages. But there are disadvantages, too, such as the fact that every citizen can use it to track the movements of whoever they're interested in following. I'm not sure I want to live in such a completely transparent society, even though as a parent I think it would be convenient.
            • I'm not sure about anyone else, but I like my private time.
              I walk down to the pool, nobody around, and I just relax.
              I'm guessing other people have similar issues. You walk alone
              to gather your thoughts in the park, maybe you just want to sit
              on the porch with a beer, and watch the traffic go by. I think
              knowing that you are being observed reduces or removes that
              bit of joy you get.

          • This will lead to a massive increase in number of cameras.

            Likely scenario: Bob finds out that a camera watches him steal strawberries, so he puts up a very specific blocking thingy. Feds want to catch the strawberry thief and so put up more cameras to get around the blocking thingy. Bob finds a way to steal more strawberries. Feds install more cameras. Kodak wishes they were film cameras. Kingston gets the storage contract. Bob buys a used tank, then crafts a removable floor in it...

        • One reasonably expects to be able to see any watchers as well as they see them in order to make a determination of how private the situation is.

          Do you really? You can attempt to determine if you're being watched, but you generally can't achieve the same level of assurance that you can in a private place. There can always be someone peering through a bush, or looking out through a window -- possibly from some distance away, with a telescope. And while it's true that if I use a telescope to look into your house through an unshaded window the law will probably view me as a peeping tom, I do not think it will do the same if you're in the middle of the

        • The question to me is how are the cameras used, and how prevalent are they?

          My reasoning is that while using a camera in public would not be an invasion of privacy using a web of cameras to track my movement would be.

      • Re:Well, yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @08:00PM (#52325869) Journal

        That last sentence highlights that this is a really sticky question. If I happen to be doing something in a public street, and someone else is taking video of their kid riding their bike for the first time, and they happen to include me in the frame, and they post that video on YouTube, have they invaded my privacy? I don't think so. Saying that they have basically eliminates the notion of a "public place" entirely.

        But clearly there is a difference when some large entity records all actions in a large area at all times and archives them all for later use. What, exactly is the difference? How, exactly, do we draw the line?

        The big difference is that spread around a large enough area, government surveillance is much closer to someone following you around with a camera all day than someone who just happens to catch you while photographing or video recording something else.

        If an individual did it, you would be really creeped-out, and if it happened more than once, you'd probably try to obtain a restraining order. It doesn't matter that you can't expect a particular moment in time is private - it's extremely unnerving when you feel like someone is following you.

        Or, looking at it from another perspective - how would anyone feel if they saw police officers standing on every street intersection every hour of every day? Would you feel happy, safe and secure?

        I can't speak for anyone else, but it would make my neighborhood start to feel more like a prison to me. I remember my last year of high school years ago, when someone decided it was a good idea to have a couple police patrolling the halls, despite having no incidents to warrant it. It was pretty alarming, and I was glad I was leaving soon.

        I cannot fathom why so many people accept the current surveillance state. It puts unprecedented power in the hands of government, and there is little evidence that it has produced any meaningful benefit to doing so. Yet, it seems like every time someone brings up their discomfort at something or another, there's a chorus of people who chime in either how they should accept it because they shouldn't expect privacy or because it's really been going on for a long time, so they should be used to it by now.

        • The big difference is that spread around a large enough area, government surveillance is much closer to someone following you around with a camera all day than someone who just happens to catch you while photographing or video recording something else.

          You just restated what I said, without actually identifying what the difference is, or where the line is.

        • I don't have sources to cite the following;
          but I understand that in London England,
          camera's are everywhere, How does that
          population deal with it? are the camera's
          hidden or in plain sight?

      • The primary source of a right to privacy is the right to property. You own your house, by right you control what is acceptable there (limited to not violating the rights of others.) WalMart owns its stores, and (I presume) prohibits people from photographing people in bathrooms and dressing rooms.

        A secondary source of a right to privacy has evolved from case law, which has developed alongside the "reasonable expectation" idea. The problem with "reasonable expectation" is that it's hard to quantify without a

        • I think another important factor is: who owns the cameras?

          A few years ago, people were complaining a lot about how you couldn't go anywhere outside in London without being recorded by CCTV cameras. However, the catch was, the vast majority of these cameras were privately-owned by local businesses, like the 24-hour gas station example you mentioned. They weren't government owned or operated.

          I think this is a useful distinction. If a crime is committed and it's likely a private camera recorded it, then the

      • That is why the burqah deserves more respect than it gets. Way ahead of its time.

      • Just because the cameras are in public places, that does NOT necessarily mean that the police are only surveilling public spaces. My city has many cameras at intersections etc.and I happen to know someone who's been in the control room for those cameras, he says they can zoom in on cars and see everything the driver and passengers are doing - the phrase he actually used was, "they can count the change in your pocket." I would submit that most people have a reasonable expectation that the little things they

        • Yes, that's part of why I said we should think seriously about revising the law regarding expectation of privacy in public places. I still don't think judges are the right people to be making those changes, though.
      • If, in fact, a large majority of the public feels like they should have an expectation of privacy on a public street

        Isn't it a contradiction in terms, "privacy in a public space"? It is public exactly because it isn't private, I would have thought.

        Apart from that, I doubt that a large majority of the public feels that you should have a right to be private everywhere - when you need privacy, you go to a private place, where you can reasonably expect to be private. What many feel unconfortable with is not whether we can be completely invisible wherever we go, but whether we are under constant surveillance by some faceless,

        • Your comment reinforces my point that this is a decision that should be made via public debate in legislative chambers, not by judges.
      • There is more. What is the "expectation of privacy" for a person in their own bathroom that happens to have a window through which they can be observed from a public utility poll? Since it is visible from a public space, does that mean there is no expectation of privacy? What about using laser microphones, laser light bouncing off of windows is also visible from public spaces... Our laws are so far behind the technology it isn't funny...

        • Actually, the law has largely addressed those questions. If seeing into my bathroom window requires the use of some technology, then it's an invasion of privacy. This has mostly come out in cases around photographers trying to get photos of celebrities. If you can take photos through a person's window with a non-telephoto lens while standing on public property, then you're not doing anything wrong. If you use a telephoto lens or similar technology, then you are trespassing. The same would apply to laser mic
    • "the public might think they are an 'invasion of privacy.'"

      The issue could be the fact that there are over 1000 in the Seattle area alone. I suspect many people wouldn't care if they had 5 watching known terrorists. Those same people may not be as comfortable if they knew there was one on nearly every major street corner.

  • by marcle ( 1575627 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:22PM (#52325349)

    Feds' argument:

    "It should be kept secret because it's supposed to be a secret, otherwise it won't be kept secret, and then it won't be a secret any more."

    If I wrote a program like that, it would no doubt take a long time to get anything done.

  • Easy detection (Score:5, Informative)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:27PM (#52325381) Homepage Journal

    I bet they've got IR on them for night surveillance. Anyone with IR detection in the same wavelength range could likely spot these suckers on a utility pole at night without a problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Can the optical element be burned out by overexposure to, say, some intense green light? preferably at a somewhat obtuse angle?

    • God I love your sig.
      • God I love your sig.

        The misspelling does blunt the impact a bit though.

      • There can't be any 'paleo vegans', ever, though; they'd starve to death.
        • Hardly. Our ancestors were probably primarily vegetarian - just look at the other great apes for comparison. They do hunt, but the majority of their caloric intake is fruits and vegetables. Even among most modern humans, meat was generally more luxury than staple until quite recently.

          Not sure how our insectivore leanings rank on the vegan scale though...

        • There can't be any 'paleo vegans', ever, though; they'd starve to death.

          How do you figure?

          The caloric content of fruits and nuts is quite high. No reason a person can't survive indefinitely on that.

          Plenty of large mammals survive on vegan or nearly-vegan diets. Gorillas, for example, eat a diet that's about 97% plant-based. And those guys need a lot more calories than we do.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Calories mostly come from vegetables, even today (80% of the calories consumed in the US came originally from corn). Protein mostly comes from meat (or milk, if we go back a ways). It takes reasonable sophistication in farming to reach the point where you can be vegan without serious protein deficiencies, which is why we were originally hunter-gatherers, not just gatherers.

            • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

              Nitpick: corn is a grain, not a vegetable.

              • by lgw ( 121541 )

                Nitpick: corn is a
                Vegetable
                Angiosperm
                Monocot
                Commelinid
                Poale
                Poacea
                Panicoidea
                Andropogonea
                Zea
                Z. mays

                All are equally valid, if we're nitpicking.

              • Nitpick: corn is a grain, not a vegetable.

                Not really, it depends on your context. If you're going by the old "animal - vegetable - mineral" classification scheme, then it's a vegetable, since it's obviously neither a mineral nor an animal.

                Furthermore, the term "vegetation" is used to describe any kind of plant life. There's nothing incorrect about calling a corn stalk "vegetation". Therefore, corn has to be a vegetable.

                It seems to me that this "grain not vegetable" thing comes from nutritionists or botan

        • You [slashdot.org], and you [slashdot.org], and you [slashdot.org], and you [slashdot.org], and you [slashdot.org], apparently, have no sense of humor. Or are easily triggered. Not sure which. I was just making a joke, which went right over your heads, apparently. If I'd've been trolling, I'd've got a perfect score. Y SO SERIOUS??? Jeez lighten up already.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:30PM (#52325391)
    The better discussion would be about what's done with the imagery and any resulting (say, facial recognition/tracking) database that's created from that imagery. But it's not an invasion of privacy to have your image taken on a public street. We've all been recorded in high resolution in the background of a million selfies, on people's dash cams, on retail stores' security cameras, on ATM cameras, and more. If the FBI is mounting one of these with a long focal length lens on a utility pole outside my window, looking IN, in a way that someone walking by on the street wouldn't be able to see - that's another discussion.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No Expectation of privacy? really?

      So if a group of people followed you around all day, every day while in public, cataloged where you went, what you bought, and who you associated with you are fine with that?

      Tie facial recognition in, and it becomes fairly easily to profile all of the above.

      From there it's a short step towards curtailing dissent or unpopular opinions simply by association....

      • Then it would be like owning an Android phone with the Google location services turned on (and I'll say that I am in this group).

    • by inode_buddha ( 576844 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:13PM (#52325623) Journal

      And yet the cops *hate* being on cam....

    • in a way that someone walking by on the street wouldn't be able to see

      Yet the government doesn't want people on the street to see the cameras, because while I am not permitted to have an expectation of not being filmed while walking on a public street, the government has an expectation of privacy for their cameras they've installed on that same public street.

      I wonder what will happen when someone publishes a series of artistic photographs showing off Seattle street life and architecture, each one carefully

      • Yet the government doesn't want people on the street to see the cameras

        In exactly the same way that law enforcement agencies don't want you to see unmarked cars, or under cover cops. Because if they're obvious, they lose why they're useful.

    • The better discussion would be about what's done with the imagery and any resulting (say, facial recognition/tracking) database that's created from that imagery

      Um...cross referenced with the cell-phone location and call records they receive sans-warrant from all the major cellular providers?

      That said, you technically have no right to privacy in a public space, even before the "Patriot Act" stepped in. Unreasonable? Yes. Perfectly legal? Also yes.

  • Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:39PM (#52325441)

    The FBI's concerns are legitimate, but should not be the end of the story.

    The answer to this is to do a case-by-case redaction where an active investigation is threatened, but to produce the total number and identify those that do not threaten an investigation, and to identify for each camera (redacted or not) whether a warrant was obtained for a specific camera and investigation (as opposed to a general warrant for thirty cameras, etc...). You can't have freedom unless your security has some measure of transparency and meaningful, critical oversight.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      No if you know what something looks like and how to spot it you have basic right under the first amendment to tell others howto as well. If you see something in a public location you have a similar right to talk about where and what it is. Just like its perfectly legal to report speed traps.

      That should be the end of the story. If our expectation of privacy cannot include not being photographed in public or to bar others from reporting sightings of us in any particular place the FBI cannot expect to keep

  • Paint balls.

    Or alternatively, if paint balls prove ineffective, 4 digits.

    30.06

    Of course, depending on the degree of hardening of the cameras' enclosures, it's possible that two digits and two letters may suffice.

    12GA

    Strat

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      Paint balls.

      Or alternatively, if paint balls prove ineffective, 4 digits.

      30.06

      Of course, depending on the degree of hardening of the cameras' enclosures, it's possible that two digits and two letters may suffice.

      12GA

      Strat

      Yes. Firing a high-power rifle round or a shotgun blast in the air, with no backstop, is a fantastic idea. Especially in an urban environment.

      That's the third thing they teach you not to do with guns. Right after "don't put your finger on the trigger if you don't want to fire the gun" and "don't look down the barrel."

      When you miss and that round kills someone a mile away in their apartment, or all the little shotgun pellets ricochet back and blind you and other, the FBI will use that as an excuse to inst

      • In an urban area, discharging a firearm in public is likely to be illegal, because of the danger to others. You're probably having a camera record an illegal act that people are going to notice. Firing a paintball is likely to be safer legally.

      • Yes. Firing a high-power rifle round or a shotgun blast in the air, with no backstop, is a fantastic idea. Especially in an urban environment.

        I never made any statement in my post which advocates for a particular method/tool/location for any or every situation.

        I agree that being unsafe with a gun is being unsafe with a gun or any type of tool, for that matter. Those were just the first few methods/tools that came to mind that had a very high likelihood of disabling even a hardened unit.

        As a long time builder in construction, mechanical/automation, and radio and navigation/guidance electronics-related fields and disciplines, among many others, "Th

  • There's already plenty of law about what is done when one person's property is intentionally abandoned without permission on another person's property, or in public.

    • So a car parked on a public street is fair game? I don't think so. There are still property rights even when something is found in a public space. That is why it is the law that found things are turned into the police and if not claimed they are then returned to the finder.

  • Crowd Source (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @06:58PM (#52325533) Homepage
    I will be shocked if there's not a web site up within 24 hours with detailed photos and pins on Google Maps showing the location of every utility pole camera in the city.
  • Huh. I wonder what they look like? I'll have to start eyeing up utility poles. Anyone got a (non locating!) picture? If you're in Seattle have you seen any unusual equipment on the poles?

    • The Seattle utility poles I see are invariably covered with paper fliers - at least at lower levels. Maybe we should just start papering them all the way to the top?

      I think it'd be funny if Random FBI Agent went to check one of the cameras but could only see "Guitar 4 Sale, Bob 555-1212".

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The correct way most nations police or clandestine services do it would be some expected hardware like a "random" new transformer upgrade or like for like replacement after "random" local supply issues. Another option would be an upgrade to existing phone or network hardware on a pole. Nobody would look twice at network or power company hardware and actual company uniformed staff. What seems to have happened is a bulk buy in of CCTV like lens products that got placed for a rushed event not long term well
  • nice brush to tar those who are concerned about privacy and surveillance overreach with........Look for this term to be used more often to imply that there is something unpatriotic or anti-government about those with concerns about these things such as ACLU, etc

    -I'm just sayin'
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant ( 738483 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @07:30PM (#52325705)
    Let's play Find-The-FedCam and pin the results on geocache sites and Google Earth. Bonus points for Panoramio pix of the cam.
  • 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.'"

    What kind of 'national security adversaries' are they hoping to catch with these cameras anyway? Are the North Korean infiltrating our Seattle Coast, and the only way to stop them is with cameras? Do those spies who managed to enter the country undetected not know that you can be filmed in public??

    • Way to cherry pick an argument. You dropped the "subjects of the criminal investigation". That can mean anything from drug traffickers to car thieves.

      • Sure, I understand what "subjects of a criminal investigation" are. Do you know what a conjunction is? It means they're also looking for "national security adversaries"
  • Not about privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @08:15PM (#52325965)

    The chief complaint here isn't about simply being recorded out in public. Plenty of stores, banks, train stations, and other public locations run CCTV without public outcry. As best as I can tell, there are two main differences.

    One is the subterfuge involved with these cameras. By not disclosing their location, and further by disguising the devices, people can never be sure whether or not someone is watching. If a bank is keeping tabs on me while I'm on their premises, fine. The cameras are easy to spot, there are probably signs posted telling me that I'm on camera. I fundamentally understand that I'm on camera and why. But the entire nebulous entity of the FBI keeping general tabs on an entire city for no clearly defined reason is most certainly not fine

    Secondly is the intent and scope. When BestBuy installs security cameras, it's to make sure that no one is damaging or stealing their merchandise. Protecting your own property is a very real and tangible reason. We can relate to that. And that reason begins and ends at their front door. BestBuy isn't going to come knocking because they saw me browsing, but I ended up buying from Walmart instead. They're not trying to keep tabs on the people specifically, just their gear. I'm only tangential to them keeping tabs on their stuff.

    People don't really mind being recorded, if we understand the specifics. Tell me exactly where I'm being recorded, and why. With that information withheld, I assume the worst. Especially when that info was explicitly acknowledged. "People want to know this, and we're not telling."

    Not exactly confidence inspiring stuff there.

    • But isn't the FBI is the security department of the country? They're making sure that no one is damaging or stealing the Nations Merchandise. Exactly the same role, it seems.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @08:16PM (#52325971)

    If the FBI's argument for these cams is that there's no expectation of privacy in public, then I suppose the FBI wouldn't mind if a group of citizens go together and published a map of all of these cameras? If they can be seen by the public, then that's fine, right?

    And likewise, if I choose to park outside of an FBI field office every day and publish license plates, and video of everyone going in and out, that wouldn't be a problem either, would it? It's a public street, so no one should expect any privacy.

    • You make a good point. The thing about this that I am trying to wrap my head around is the logic involved:
      It is OK for the FBI to have these cameras, because people do not have an expectation of privacy in the locations where these cameras are recording.
      However, the FBI cannot reveal the specific locations of these cameras because the majority of people would then consider them an invasion of privacy.

      If people would consider these to be an invasion of privacy, then they have an expectation of privacy in
    • They might mind, but there isn't a thing they could do to prevent it.

      However, I suspect these cameras might harder to spot and identify than you might think.

      And regarding your latter part - again, they might mind, but as long as you were legally parked, in a public parking lot and weren't interfering with or disturbing anyone else's legal activity, then they can't stop you doing that either. Mind you, "legally parked" would of course include having YOUR car properly registered and plated.

  • Sounds like it's time for a new website: fbi-camera-directory.com

  • "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.'"

    Really? Why would anyone think a camera deployed to target you and pointed specifically at your home or place of business would be an "invasion of privacy"? Golly gee, I can't imagine...

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday June 15, 2016 @09:04PM (#52326221) Homepage

    Everyone go out and take high res photos of utility poles and their GPS coordinates, upload to a site where crowdsourcing can investigate them and identify the cameras and create a public database of the locations.

    Fuck you FBI.

  • will know what to look for to discern whether the FBI is conducting surveillance in a particular location

    That's easy:THEY ARE.

  • recording only events that are visible IN PUBLIC? Because you don't need a warrant for that.

    ANYone can legally observe and/or record anything that is visible IN PUBLIC.

    Its part of "freedom of the press". No, they can't require you to "register" to be recognize as the press, its called citizen journalism.

    Again, IN PUBLIC.

  • Most utility / telephone poles are located on easements of private property, and those easements have restrictions and limitations. Is the ability for the federal /state/ local government written into the easement? Most of them are very specific about what can and cannot be placed in the easement, and to change them most often requires the approval of the governing authority that placed the easement. Ma Bell fought for a long time to keep other peoples wires off their poles and used those very easement r

  • The FBI is gathering dirt on current / future politicians and judges to cement their extra-legal dominance for perpetuity.

    This is why FBI HQ is still named after that tyrant Hoover.
  • See a camera with no owner info, KILL IT!
    Won't take long for FBI/CIA/NSA/Gov't 'fake' registrants to become known, then we can kill those too.

    So what's the SOA on EMP guns?

  • That the FBI is now public enemy number 1?

  • Is it just me, or does it seem odd that the FBI itself is putting up cameras. This is kind of creepy, especially considering the nature and history of the FBI.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351

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