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Port Angeles will keep "mesh" network active

November 15th, 2013 - 5:38am

(Port Angeles) – The city of Port Angeles has no plans to deactivate a city-wide wifi network similar to one in Seattle.

Seattle police said this week they'd deactivate their so-called “mesh” network after criticism it could be used to conduct sweeping surveillance.

Port Angeles police chief Terry Gallagher tell Newsradio KONP the Seattle and Port Angeles systems are nearly identical. But he says the Port Angeles mesh and its capabilities were fully vetted in several public forums and before the city council. Gallagher says the Seattle network did not follow the same process and was not put before the public for debate as part of the obtaining a federal grant to install it.

Gallagher says for police to access any information on the mesh network, officers would have to obtain a search warrant. To do that they'd also have to have reasonable suspicion the information exists in the first place and be investigating a crime.

Gallagher says local law enforcement has no plans to use the mesh for unlawful surveillance and called the technology a way to enhance the safety of citizens, not to compromise privacy.

He also says the local network is set so that in individual's wireless device must seek out the wifi connection, the mesh doesn't look for you. He says if you turn off your wifi the mesh doesn't know where you are.

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