DHS Funds Installation of White Boxes That Can Track Population of Entire City

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's the Seattle PD's new wireless mesh network. There are lots of stories about it:
https://www.google.com/search?q=aruba mesh seattle PD

This is the most detailed:
http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/you-are-a-rogue-device/Content?oid=18143845

Essentially it's just a WiFi network. Just like you'd get at an airport, or actually in many cities (where municipal WiFi is available). It's designed to be robust (so fast moving cop cars don't lose their connections), and private. It's specifically intended to support video streaming, but will also be used for generic network connections to mobile units.

The "Mesh" nature of it means it's not just a collection of hard-wired access points - the network connections can actually pass though multiple nodes before they get to a hard-wired connection. It allows them to cover a much wider area without having to dig up the street or string cables.

Theoretically it could be used to track WiFi devices, but there's no evidence that they will, and they have said they will not. Seems like it would be illegal, like when Google accidentally snooped on WiFi data.

Any public or private WiFi network could track WiFi devices. There are many thousands of such networks, including several cities. In California for example, the following cities have been supplying free WiFi for years.

http://ca.gov/WiFi/
 
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dunbar

Active Member
Theoretically it could be used to track devices, but there's no evidence that they will, and they have said they will not.

There is much precedent that says it will be used in that way and that they are being less than honest when they say they will not.



Seems like it would be illegal

Warrantless wiretapping was illegal until it became routine, torture was illegal until it became official policy, indefinite detention without due process was illegal until they just went ahead and did it, extrajudicial killing was illegal until it wasn't.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Does that mean you think they will listen to every wireless conversation in Seattle? Seems like a daunting task.
 

dunbar

Active Member
 

dunbar

Active Member
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
One point taken.

Technology is advancing faster than the rate at which legislative bodies can enact laws and restrictions regarding it's use. The bottom line is that the American people and the citizens of other democratic nations need to start having a serious discussion about where electronic surveillance ends and our privacy begins.
 
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AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
This nation was founded on concpects like checks and balances. Right now the people are complacent in regards to what our lawmakers are doing. People are very ready and willing to complain about and frequently overstate the extent to which modern surveillance is being used . But not very willing to take action. Your local officials have a much greater effect on what happens in your local community than what most people honestly realise, and yet local elections consistently have by far the lowest voter participation across the board. Contact your congressman, go to town council meetings, contact the ACLU... There are lots of things that people can do to enact change, but people simply aren't doing them.


I heard Alex Jones talk about this for the last couple of days. He claimed that he got those documents from his infowars insider and of course as per Alex Jones style; he changes the story from being that 'this technology could potentially be utilized to spy on you' to 'this technology is being used to spy on you'. Just like how he says that your dishwasher is spying on you and the X Box Kinect can scan 1000ft through walls. It's all about spreading fear and paranoia, and not at all about looking for real world solutions. I'll be honest, I don't know whether or not this wireless mesh network will be used for surveillance, but the fact of the matter is that any internet capable device that has a camera, microphone, and/or gps sensor can potentially be used to spy on and track you. So why freak out about this?

But on the brighter side...
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/...ersial-WiFi-network-in-Seattle-231692161.html
You see that's how you enact real change. But I'd be willing to bet that the vainglorious Alex Jones will be taking credit for this if he hasn't already.
 
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dunbar

Active Member
Who cares about alex jones? He's a hard right john birch society reject with a strong dose of libertarian imbecile/nutjob. Regardless of what he has to say about it, the surveillance state is a matter of serious concern.
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Indeed it is - and that is why the ACLU, Police and City Council are all over this in various ways.

Lots of people care about Alex jones...unfortunately....enough to make him a good living.
 

dunbar

Active Member
Lots of people care about ancient aliens and believe in "chemtrails"... lots of people are idiots. I'm less concerned with debunking alien abductions and yeti rape than I am with debunking and exposing propagandists and apologists of the mass surveillance state. There's always going to be the kind of idiots who stare up at jet exhaust believing it to be a vast sinister government plot, alex jones is small potatoes.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I'm less concerned with debunking alien abductions and yeti rape than I am with debunking and exposing propagandists and apologists of the mass surveillance state.

Then concisely debunk it, under the posting guidelines. Don't just post a bunch of speculation.
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/posting-guidelines.2064/

particularly:
 
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moderateGOP

Active Member
Interesting after getting through the bunk in this article. I figured out that it was only a Mesh Wireless network. From my limited knowledge of computer networks I figured that it was basically a more stable city wide network. Lo and Behold, a simple Wikipedia search confirmed my suspicions.

The self-healing capability enables a routing based network to operate when one node breaks down or a connection goes bad. As a result, the network is typically quite reliable, as there is often more than one path between a source and a destination in the network. Although mostly used in wireless situations, this concept is also applicable to wired networks and software interaction. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking

It's actually a really smart way to set up a network. These people (CTs and most right wing types- Though I wouldn't label Alex Jones right wing) do not know how networks or even computers work. So if WiFi signals, means that the gov't is tracking you...Then that's just another rehash of the microwave/tinfoil conspiracy. The kicker here is that Tinfoil actually increases wifi capabilities in some cases :D
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
You know I was looking at those 'leaked' documents and trying to figure out what was so special about them. Alex Jones claimed that it was 'proof' that this network was set up to spy on Seattle. All these documents show are some project details and a network configuration diagram. I wonder if they just saw "Watchgaurd 5x"and assumed that is some kind of spy device when it's actually just a commercial grade firewall router.
 

moderateGOP

Active Member
You know I was looking at those 'leaked' documents and trying to figure out what was so special about them. Alex Jones claimed that it was 'proof' that this network was set up to spy on Seattle. All these documents show are some project details and a network configuration diagram. I wonder if they just saw "Watchgaurd 5x"and assumed that is some kind of spy device when it's actually just a commercial grade firewall router.

Probably, good find.
 

dunbar

Active Member
just saw "Watchgaurd 5x"and assumed that is some kind of spy device when it's actually just a commercial grade firewall router.

Doesn't look like anybody assumed anything at all, it is "some kind of spy device".


http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-police-have-wireless-network-can-track-you/nbmHW/
 

MikeC

Closed Account
Doesn't look like anybody assumed anything at all, it is "some kind of spy device".


Groan - my cell phone does this too - if I open it up now I can find.....23 networks currently in range.

that is what WiFi does - it checks devices and networks in range to see if they are authorized and compatible. Your phone would note the existence of any such network too - you would be spying on IT!!

If you have a phone that has WiFi then according to your definition you are carrying "come sort of spy device"

that's just silly.....
 

dunbar

Active Member
I don't know what kind of phone you're carrying but my phone doesn't snatch and store the "last 1,000 historical locations for each MAC address” that comes into proximity.

Nor does my phone provide a real time spatial map of every wireless device in the area.

This is just silly....
 

dunbar

Active Member
Any public or private WiFi network could track WiFi devices. There are many thousands of such networks, including several cities. In California for example, the following cities have been supplying free WiFi for years.

This is very different from public wifi. Public wifi will only register the MAC address if a device connects to the network, this system registers all devices in range whether they are associated with the network or unassociated. Public wifi does not track and store location data every 30 seconds across the network, this system does.Public wifi does not provide a real time spatial map of all devices within its area, the Aruba system does.

There is a legitimate concern over this and I don't think the citizens of Seattle and the ACLU are paranoid conspiracy theorists who can't tell the difference between public wifi and the Aruba system.
 

moderateGOP

Active Member
1. I don't know what kind of phone you're carrying but my phone doesn't snatch and store the "last 1,000 historical locations for each MAC address” that comes into proximity.

2. Nor does my phone provide a real time spatial map of every wireless device in the area.

1. Most phones actually have this capability in a limited sense, but you have to think of a city wide network! It's what a city network has to do to function. Otherwise you'd have to enter in a bunch of numbers each time you want to connect to the wifi, and I'm not just talking about wifi passwords. I'm talking about Mac Addresses Gateway addresses IP addresses etc...

2. Really? Bing Maps does this pre-installed on Windows Phones. I'm 100% positive Apple Maps does this too. Not sure about google, but they are doing amazing things with real time updating so it wouldn't shock me at all. This feature on my phone reveals, the location of wifi hotspots and anybody who wants to share their location. It can be turned on and off, but don't think for a second that the corporations aren't "storing" this information and "spying on you."

Oh and I'm sure you can download or create more powerful apps that do much more than what you are freaking out about here!

It's the sad state of the technology illiteracy that created the NSA "spying" scandal and this is directly out of the libertarian fear machine playbook, only on a smaller state-side method. What exactly do you think is going on in Seattle? Do you think a bunch of federal agents are sitting around watching computers log Mac Addresses? What a boring job.... You can't really do that much with a Mac Address anyway. This website probably monitors the same information. There are analytics programs that people run on their websites to "spy on you." What exactly is so horrifying about that? Is it Irony, to anybody that one of the very cores of libertarian principles is to "leave it to the states?" Wouldn't a real libertarian, not care what Seattle does in it's own city?
 

dunbar

Active Member
1. Most phones actually have this capability in a limited sense, but you have to think of a city wide network! It's what a city network has to do to function. Otherwise you'd have to enter in a bunch of numbers each time you want to connect to the wifi, and I'm not just talking about wifi passwords. I'm talking about Mac Addresses Gateway addresses IP addresses etc...

Most phones do not have this capability in any sense, neither do city wide public wifi networks.

2. Really? Bing Maps does this pre-installed on Windows Phones. I'm 100% positive Apple Maps does this too. Not sure about google, but they are doing amazing things with real time updating so it wouldn't shock me at all. This feature on my phone reveals, the location of wifi hotspots and anybody who wants to share their location. It can be turned on and off, but don't think for a second that the corporations aren't "storing" this information and "spying on you."

Wrong, phones can sniff hotspots but they absolutely do not reveal the location of every wireless device and cellphone in a given area. You don't know what you're talking about. You cannot opt out of the aruba system, there is no "off and on" there's just on

Oh and I'm sure you can download or create more powerful apps that do much more than what you are freaking out about here!

First, I'm not "freaking out", I'm just not casually dismissing an issue that raises legitimate concerns for reasonable people.

I'm sure you can create many illegal apps that sniff and track all kinds of things, doesn't mean it's not a problem. I don't get your logic.

It's the sad state of the technology illiteracy that created the NSA "spying" scandal and this is directly out of the libertarian fear machine playbook

"Technology illiteracy" didn't create the NSA spying scandal, illegitimate mass spying created the NSA spying scandal. Again, don't get your logic.


only on a smaller state-side method

It's another level of intrusive illegitimate electronic spying by law enforcement without public democratic sanction.

What exactly do you think is going on in Seattle? Do you think a bunch of federal agents are sitting around watching computers log Mac Addresses? What a boring job....

And I'm the technological illiterate? I think the system is probably automated, don't you?

You can't really do that much with a Mac Address anyway. This website probably monitors the same information. There are analytics programs that people run on their websites to "spy on you." What exactly is so horrifying about that?

Is it Irony, to anybody that one of the very cores of libertarian principles is to "leave it to the states?" Wouldn't a real libertarian, not care what Seattle does in it's own city?

I'm not a libertarian, so no. I think mixed economies and social democracy is where it's at.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
Doesn't look like anybody assumed anything at all, it is "some kind of spy device".


http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-police-have-wireless-network-can-track-you/nbmHW/
I have a $50 wireless g router that is 7 years old. And it is capable of storing mac addresses for an indefinite period of time.
Generally speaking, features like identifying rogue (unauthorized) network devices can be done to an extent even on a home network. The difference is that Aruba seems to be able to set up a network that can do this automatically which they are most likely accomplishing via software. Watchgaurd is a brand of hardware firewall/network router. The Watchguard 5x is prbably a reference to the Watchgaurd XTM 5 series. Here is a Watchgaurd XTM 525 that you can buy for only $2,109.99. The router/firewall itself is not the spy device. Your 'spy devices' are the WAP management and the access points (the white boxes). They know your general location when you access a wireless access point because they know where the access point it is. A mac address isn't even private data by an measurable standard. Anytime you access the internet through a router whether basic or commercial grade, your mac address is revealed and stored.
This is very different from public wifi. Public wifi will only register the MAC address if a device connects to the network, this system registers all devices in range whether they are associated with the network or unassociated. Public wifi does not track and store location data every 30 seconds across the network, this system does.
What they mean by 'unassociated' is basically network devices that are connects, but aren't supposed to access the network
Every system is capable of registering rogue devices, but not necessarily capable of locating it.

Here is a good explanation of what rogue devices are.

A way that a user might unintentionally become a rogue device (or peer) is by someone connecting a rogue wireless access point and naming the SSID (wifi network name) something like Panera or Starbucks so that smartphones and laptops may automatically connect to it if they are set to automatically connect to that network. This poses and obvious security threat and the need to detect and locate rogue devices is a necessity for large wifi networks.

Here are some other ways that client mis-associations may occur:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_security

Hopefully you'll be able to understand why being able to automatically locate rogue devices would be a desirable functionality for large and sophisticated network. The use of many smaller low powered access points as opposed to the more traditional method of fewer, high powered access points allows for some redundancy in the event that one or a few devices fail. This in turn also makes it easier to locate rogue devices by determining which access point the device is associated with.



The bottom line is that if you are concerned about these network systems tracking you, you can just not use public wifi.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It's just WiFi.

It's just potential WiFi sniffing. Any municipal WiFi network could already do this. All it would tell you is what devices were in range of what access points at what time (providing they had WiFi switched on, and were transmitting).

The phone companies can do it already at a vastly more detailed level. This is a storm in a teacup.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
I would suppose the only difference is that most large scale public wifis seem to use higher powered APs which will serve alot of clients over a broad range. Using lower powered APs to serve a smaller area enables the network admin to get a more specific location of the client such as "300 block of Market st." Which is useful, but far from what I would call pin point accuracy.
 

moderateGOP

Active Member
1.Most phones do not have this capability in any sense, neither do city wide public wifi networks.
Wrong, phones can sniff hotspots but they absolutely do not reveal the location of every wireless device and cellphone in a given area.

2. I'm just not casually dismissing an issue that raises legitimate concerns for reasonable people.

3. It's another level of intrusive illegitimate electronic spying by law enforcement without public democratic sanction.

4.And I'm the technological illiterate? I think the system is probably automated, don't you?

5. I think mixed economies and social democracy is where it's at.

1. What do you think, seeing wifi hotspots evolves into? That's what I mean by in a limited sense. Basically this network seems to boost, fix itself, and gives itself more power based on how many devices are connected to it or are trying to connect to it.

2. Only if they don't research into how networks actually work and believes everything Alex Jones and the ACLU tells them! Then, they'll realize its nothing to worry about and its actually really useful for large city networks.

3. So the basic functionality of networks are illegitimate and intrusive?

4. You obviously didn't read my sentence, I said they sit and watch computers log mac addresses... Again, you never did quite explain to me why this is so horrifying. You just believe that I should think it is and agree with you.

5. The same Mixed economy and social democracy that created this technology that you are freaking out about.
 

dunbar

Active Member
It's just WiFi.

It's just potential WiFi sniffing. Any municipal WiFi network could already do this.

Public networks could do this but do not, that's the difference. And btw, do you maybe think that all of this data might possibly be relayed to DHS threat fusion centers? After all, DHS is the agency that funded this system.

All it would tell you is what devices were in range of what access points at what time (providing they had WiFi switched on, and were transmitting).

A lot of useful information can be extrapolated from that data with sufficient analysis.

The phone companies can do it already at a vastly more detailed level. This is a storm in a teacup.

And the incestuous relationship between telecoms and intelligence agencies is fairly disturbing in and of itself. I understand that this data is unavoidably going to be generated, but what is done with it and to it and who should have access to it and under which circumstances are vitally important issues that concern us all.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Public networks could do this but do not, that's the difference.

This one does not either - like the public WiFi, it's simply something that it could do. Any WiFi network could do the things you list.

Your phone could be transmitting everything you say to the CIA, even though it seems to be shut off. Does that mean it is?
 

moderateGOP

Active Member
I understand that this data is unavoidably going to be generated, but what is done with it and to it and who should have access to it and under which circumstances are vitally important issues that concern us all.

I am perfectly content that the telecom companies know what they are doing! I don't want people like Alex Jones anywhere near this stuff
 

dunbar

Active Member
This one does not either - like the public WiFi, it's simply something that it could do. Any WiFi network could do the things you list.

The default on this system is read, store, and track, every other public wifi would have to be reconfigured in order to do it. This system is specifically programmed to do exactly this.
 

dunbar

Active Member
No it's not. That's just something it can do.

 

dunbar

Active Member
3. So the basic functionality of networks are illegitimate and intrusive?

The basic functionality of networks is to facilitate communication, not to read, track, and store the types, locations and movement of all devices within the network area regardless of whether they are connected to the network or not.
 

dunbar

Active Member
And btw, do you maybe think that all of this data might possibly be relayed to DHS threat fusion centers? After all, DHS is the agency that funded this system.


 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
It's a public wifi. And as it has been pointed out any public or open network is capable of doing what this system does to one extent or another. From logging mac addresses to viewing internet traffic, to even getting a general location on the user. Security similar to what this system has would most certainly be used on any large scale public wifi, and is necessary as the larger the network, the greater the threats. And if you're worried about personal data being downloaded from your smartphone, than perhaps you should install a software firewall.

The fact of the matter is that there is an inherit danger to using public and open wifi networks regardless of how you look at it. From hackers spoofing SSIDs with rougue devices to the sophisticated security measures needed to prevent such occurrences, it can potentially pose a threat to individual privacy. And that's just unavoidable.

If it bothers you or anyone else that the DHS funded this project,, than don't use it. Nobody in anyway is required to utilize this public network.
 

moderateGOP

Active Member


can you make arguments without quoting huge blocks of text from an infowars article?
 

moderateGOP

Active Member
It's a public wifi. And as it has been pointed out any public or open network is capable of doing what this system does to one extent or another. From logging mac addresses to viewing internet traffic, to even getting a general location on the user. Security similar to what this system has would most certainly be used on any large scale public wifi, and is necessary as the larger the network, the greater the threats. And if you're worried about personal data being downloaded from your smartphone, than perhaps you should install a software firewall.

The fact of the matter is that there is an inherit danger to using public and open wifi networks regardless of how you look at it. From hackers spoofing SSIDs with rougue devices to the sophisticated security measures needed to prevent such occurrences, it can potentially pose a threat to individual privacy. And that's just unavoidable.

If it bothers you or anyone else that the DHS funded this project,, than don't use it. Nobody in anyway is required to utilize this public network.

remember this would only affect him if he loves in Seattle. I highly doubt that
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

It's a fairly standard feature of network topology management for the network to remember where each device is, so it can better route packets. Your own WiFi router and phone probably have a log of nearby devices in them. It's a network optimization, troubleshooting, and security tool.

It's described here:

http://www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/products/AB_AW_RAPIDS.pdf

It could be used for surveillance of individuals. But you'd have to do a lot more work on top of that. For a start, you'd have to know what that person's MAC address was. It's not designed to monitor people, which is what Infowars is suggesting. Nor can it inspect the contents of your phone.
 

AluminumTheory

Senior Member.
It's a fairly standard feature of network topology management for the network to remember where each device is, so it can better route packets. Your own WiFi router and phone probably have a log of nearby devices in them. It's a network optimization, troubleshooting, and security tool.

It's described here:

http://www.arubanetworks.com/pdf/products/AB_AW_RAPIDS.pdf

It could be used for surveillance of individuals. But you'd have to do a lot more work on top of that. For a start, you'd have to know what that person's MAC address was. It's not designed to monitor people, which is what Infowars is suggesting. Nor can it inspect the contents of your phone.

Also worth mentioning, MAC addresses can be spoofed. And your smartphone's MAC address to your phones wifi chip (which is different from the chip that receives your cell network signal) could possibly be traced back to the owner. But even that it's probably more difficult than sounds.
A mac address lookup is only going to tell you the manufacturer of the wireless chipset, NOT the manufacturer of the device itself. Sow when you look up a mac address, you aren't going to see descriptions like: Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 5s. Youre going to things more like: Atheros, Realtek, Broadcom and varous other chipmakers. And your wireless chipset is hardly unique to your device and is very likely to be a common chipset used in numerous devices.
Law enforcement (with a warrant) could contact a cell provider and determine the serial number and other information about your smartphone be possibly the mac address. But they would have to know who you are first. And this only applies to phones mac address in laptops, tablets etc have no documented association with their owners so it would be impossible to determine every Mac addres associated with person's device.
If you had somebody mac address and you wanted to find out who they were, you would have to hope that all providers keep a record of the wifi mac address to their subscriber's smartphones (I'm not sure that they do), and then you would have to ask every wireless provider in the area to search that Mac address. And then you would have to hope this person is using a smartphone on a plan because if they're not, the mac address will absolutely not be traceable to anyone.
it would seem extraordinarily difficult to actually identify someone using just a mac address.
The I read into this, the more I think its completely overblown. I respect the ACLU and what they do and I can see how someone unfamiliar with networking may think that this system has the potential to spy on people, but if that was the intent, then this would honestly be a very poor method of doing so. I would ex expect a real spy grid to be much more dialed down and be designed to intercept cellular signals and capture IMEI information. It was a massive stretch to call any of these 'Snowden level documents', and I think we can mark this debunked.
 
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