Seattle has installed surveillance equipment that collects traffic data. The data monitoring system is part of the city’s efforts to evaluate the traffic conditions daily.

However, FLIR Systems, the firm assigned to do the task, has a tainted past. With FLIR’s history of illegal sales and bribery, Seattle privacy advocates are worried about the integrity of the Oregon-based firm.

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FLIR Systems and the city have said the data will not be sold. Still, privacy advocates are concerned.

Privacy advocates, who closely examine both this technology and Seattle’s approach to privacy and technology, are very concerned that this data could be hoarded by FLIR and sold at a later date. There is evidence of a significant market for geolocation data from cell phones. Standing right at the front of the line is the federal government. We have examples from 2017 in San Diego, where ICE bought cell phone location data to execute deportation raids.

And the IRS more recently acknowledged to Senator Ron Wyden, and shared the documents with us, that they’ve relied on 19 different unnamed tech companies to get geolocation data for IRS criminal investigations into individual taxpayers. The fear among these privacy advocates is that the future of Seattle’s data.