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    Seattle Times: Waterfront surveillance cameras stir privacy fears

    The Seattle Times takes a look at privacy questions over surveillance cameras being installed along the city’s waterfront:

    Seattle’s waterfront vistas have long been popular with camera-toting tourists and shutterbugs.

    But the recent installation of more than two dozen security cameras along the city’s shoreline, from Fauntleroy to Golden Gardens, is drawing concern from some residents and a warning from civil-rights activists. [...]

    The 30 cameras, along with a wireless mesh network created by 160 antenna, are funded by a $5 million federal grant aimed at increasing the Port of Seattle and the city’s ability to respond to hazards and emergencies, according to Seattle Police Department Capt. Chris Fowler. The cameras will provide police with a sweeping view of the port facilities, Elliott Bay and the shoreline.

    Detective Monty Moss, in charge of surveillance platforms, said they’re hoping to have the cameras operational by March 31.

    Fowler said there will be strict controls on who has access to the cameras and the information they contain. He said the department is creating policies that will govern how the cameras are used, how the information will be stored and for how long.

    While the cameras are currently stationary, Fowler said eventually they will be able to rotate. However, he said the cameras have a “masking” feature that will automatically prevent the camera from taking pictures inside windows by blacking out the view. [...]

    Money for the cameras and the wireless network came from a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to benefit a number of regional agencies, including the Coast Guard, King County, the Port of Seattle and the city’s fire, police and transportation departments.

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