In more surveillance news, it seems that cops around the country are getting access to broadband surveillance. A program called FirstNet is expanding surveillance options to law enforcement agencies (via The Intercept).
Publicly available documents, alongside interviews with participants, stakeholders, and government researchers with knowledge of the program, say that FirstNet will help agencies like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to communicate with local police.
It will use AT&T’s broadband network to give officers more information and speed up development of the law enforcement app industry. However, it will use encrypted networks, instead of public radio frequencies currently in use.
FirstNet is a public-private partnership that creates a dedicated lane for public safety agencies within AT&T’s existing broadband network. As of January, all U.S. states had opted in to FirstNet, meaning that they agreed not to build their own competing broadband lanes for law enforcement and public safety. Then, in March, AT&T announced that FirstNet’s core — the infrastructure that isolates police traffic from the commercial network — had become operational at last.
The government gave AT&T free rights to the 20MHz broadband spectrum, as well as US$6.5 billion for the network rollout. In return AT&T has to spend US$40 billion over the next 25 years on network expansion and maintenance.