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Surveillance on Seattle's mind in light of Trump presidency

A sign in front of this large house warns of 24 hour video surveillance.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols
A sign in front of this Seattle house warns of 24 hour video surveillance.

Seattle lawmakers are taking a closer look at surveillance cameras throughout the city. That's in part because information on the FBI's cameras in Seattle is being kept confidential, due to a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones last week.

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant held a discussion with privacy advocates like the ACLU on Tuesday. She said she's interested in tightening city surveillance laws. She wants to require Seattle City Council approval before any federal agency installs a camera.

Sawant: "As a sanctuary city we should not be filming our general population, and we certainly should not be sending that data to law enforcement agencies now being run by the Trump administration. Many find this chilling, and the council has a duty to protect constituents from being surveilled."

She and other council members noted that some surveillance is appropriate, such as traffic cameras or surveillance for an investigation.

Under Seattle law, city departments must ask for council approval before conducting surveillance or installing cameras. Sawant says federal agencies are able to get around that rule.

Meanwhile, this week the U.S. Senate approved President Trump's appointment for director of the CIA. Mike Pompeo supports expanding surveillance in the U.S.