San Francisco police started encrypting radio transmissions
San Francisco police started encrypting radio transmissions

For the first time since radio technology was introduced in the early 1900s, the San Francisco Police Department began encrypting nearly all radio transmissions, making them inaccessible to the public.

The San Francisco Police Department upheld the ruling, saying it has released a new encryption protocol with permission from the California Department of Justice to protect personally identifiable information.

Fans are the first to notice this change. Desmond Criss, a technician in San Francisco, noted that the police, whom he usually listened to, were silent.

Crisis monitors local police channels for up-to-date events and threats to public safety. But now most of the police's messages have disappeared behind a wall of encryption.

San Francisco Police Department spokesman Adam Lobsinger (Adam Lobsinger) said all traffic from the police station is encrypted. Police radio traffic is hard to hear and unencrypted content is on the EMD website.

The city's emergency call service is responsible for redirecting emergency calls to the police or fire brigade and is developing a protocol to encrypt some of the radio transmissions.

Communications between the San Francisco Police Department and the Department of Emergency Management can be eavesdropped in advance. But this function is no longer available. The public cannot see the law enforcement aspects of this exchange.

The San Francisco Police Department uses extensive encryption technology to prevent fans like Crisis - as well as reporters and audio platforms - from supervising normal law enforcement operations.

This is part of a growing trend of law enforcement in the United States that worries proponents of open government.

Police in Illinois, Minnesota, Virginia, and other states recently partially encrypted their wireless communications. Privacy experts say end-to-end encryption is an extreme response to perceived threats and police radio traffic is a necessary public resource.

Radio transmission is an important window for the public to understand what the police are doing. The San Francisco Police Department previously introduced internal encryption as a partial measure rather than blocking all radio traffic.

This movement is part of the communication trend of crypto agencies

The agency said in June that it was committed to transparency within the legal framework and that it was in the public interest not to encrypt all of its channels.

To restrict the transmission of personal information, the agency encrypts a portion of wireless data traffic that contains sensitive information, including discussions of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Hobbyists watch the industry transition from analog to digital broadcasting in November. The division replaced their 20-year-old system with an updated version that offers wider coverage, clearer sound and meets interoperability standards.

Citizen, a crime monitoring app, also noted the disappearance of police channels, and the app relied on those broadcasts for emergency troubleshooting on the app.

The company has confirmed that apps in the San Francisco area no longer display police information. A company spokesperson at the time assumed a malfunction. "We have contacted law enforcement about disrupting public broadcasting in San Francisco," he said.

He added, “We look forward to working with them to ensure that citizens, other media and security technology are kept informed about the safety of the city. Rapid access to information can save lives and help make content relevant, realistic and accessible.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said that law enforcement agencies must protect personal information when transmitting personal information over the radio. Organizations can do this through policies that selectively protect sensitive information. But let other wireless traffic continue.

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