Are you ready for the Internet of Cops?

March 3, 2014

FirstNet — a state-of-the-art communications network for paramedics, firemen and law enforcement at the federal, state and local level — will give cops on the streets unprecedented technological powers, and possibly hand over even more intimate data about our lives to the higher ends of the government and its intelligence agencies, Motherboard reports.

According to a series of presentation slides from December last year, FirstNet will be the “MOST secure wireless network ever built,” as a dedicated 4G network just for first responders.

FirstNet will allow users to “tag” a disaster victim with a small device to allow patients’ vital signs to be monitored from a control center, allowing medical staff to keep an eye on who needs treatment the most at any one time. But FirstNet will also give local law enforcement the ability to take digital “fingerprints from the field,” record and share high-quality video, with facial recognition, and instantaneously marry these freshly sourced data with others over the network.

The uses of FirstNet — biometric data gathering, license plate readers and high speed information sharing — are explicit aims of the project, as laid out in presentations and other documents, along with a possible “kill switch” to disable the civilian network in emergencies.

There is also the possibility that this will create a new means for the federal government to harvest massive quantities of the biometric data being collected by local agencies.

Webcam chats, gamers also surveilled

In related news last week, under a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve, Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the NSA, collected millions of still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, The Guardian reported. The agencies also collected gamers’ chats and deployed real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life.