FUSUS: Information Citizens Should Know
Recently, the Oklahoma City Police Department informed the city council of their intent to implement a controversial system into their policing methods. Informed. They did not ask if this was a good idea, nor did they put the question to the citizens they serve.
FUSUS is a system that employs and uses private and business surveillance and security cameras and incorporates them into the tools of law enforcement agencies. This raises serious privacy concerns for the public at large who may be unknowingly caught in such footage. This resembles the government using the public to fish for criminal activity. Concerns have also been raised regarding the use of this technology for racial or other profiling, and for the general surveillance of citizens going about their everyday lives.
Given the potential for abuse, no matter the original innocent intent, this seems a dangerous road to take for individual liberty, especially when the information can be gathered using more traditional methods of evidence and data collection. In this article a member of law enforcement in Dayton, Ohio states that “in most cases” FUSUS will be activated to combat violent crimes. But, the question remains that once a system is in place, what recourse do the citizens in an area have when that system is abused? According to a question-and-answer session in Dayton, their trial of FUSUS was taxpayer funded. This has uneasy echoes of the SS setting up the Nazi system of Germany in the 1930’s by using public money and convincing citizens that there was a threat that required them to report their neighbors to the government – voluntarily. As a matter of fact, some localities are publicly encouraging their citizens to join the surveillance network – voluntarily. What happens if this no longer becomes voluntary?
There is an article detailing a meeting from Columbia, Missouri that raises a lot of questions regarding exactly what the capabilities of a FUSUS system are and if there are any surveillance limitations within the system itself. Let’s pick this apart and ask some questions.
“One new detail in the policy specifies that supervisors must give officers approval to access live-streamed cameras, which officers could only access ‘based on specific and identifiable operational needs for investigations.’ Supervisors can set permissions for individual officers within the system.”
Question: So, the default may be that anyone on the system has access to live streamed cameras?
Answer: Apparently so.
“If we decided that we want to limit that access to a certain group of people or an individual person, we can set those permissions,” Jones said. “Either way, we want it to be useful so that if something’s going on, (officers) can access the video. We just want to make sure that they’re not using it when there isn’t an event.”
Next comes this statement that is supposed to be reassuring, but fails miserably.
“Fusus audit function tracks every action in the system, and the policy specifies that supervisors will periodically audit the system to make sure rules are followed.”
Question: What are people to do if the rules were broken early in the period and it is caught later in the period? Will they be told, “Well, what difference does it make?”
The policy also states that the department won’t conduct “general public surveillance without a law enforcement need.”
Muscato said residential cameras’ live feeds can’t be integrated into the system under the policy. What residents can do is register their cameras to the system’s internal map, making it easier for the police to contact them and request footage for a specific investigation.
“We don’t want people to offer, and we don’t want to access (private areas), like ‘Oh, you can look into my living room,’ even if you wanted to,” Muscato said.
Question: Live cameras can’t be integrated under the policy? Does the system have the capability to integrate live feeds AT ALL? Why does the person state “we don’t want to access” instead of “we don’t have the capability to access”?
These are just a few examples of red flags with this system from a single public meeting in one community. FUSUS was presented in 2019 as developed to be specific to smart cities and communities, which are under fire right now across the country for their emphasis and focus on keeping citizens and their daily lives in confined areas, and concerns about the threats to individual liberties inherent in that system of community living.
Who is behind FUSUS?
For background, FUSUS is a private corporation, based in Georgia, that is publicly traded, issues stock, has an interesting board of directors and has made some recent interesting mergers. For instance, Henrick Kuhl is listed as a Director of the Corporation on their SEC Form D filing for 2022.
He is also a Senior Vice President for the company Axon, which just merged with FUSUS. According to his LinkedIn page, he is also a board member at Dedrone, an Axon designee. Dedrone is a market leader in Smart Aerospace Security. He is also a board member at DroneSense, which is the leading software platform in public safety for piloting, management, and collaboration of drones.
Early on in his career Mr. Kuhl was a research assistant at the United Nations, with an internship in the Development Policy Unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; a Senior consultant at Navigant Capital Advisors for two years, then a director at Herbalife for two years. After Herbalife, he was an associate, then VP of the Investment Banking division in retail, consumer products, and healthcare companies for five years, then VP of Strategy and Corporate Development for Image Skincare for three and a half years. He then makes the leap into being a board member for Dedrone, Dronesense, Inc, FUSUS, and a VP at Axon.
He is a link that connects many concerning companies together under one umbrella. This is alarming and appears to have far too many private security companies becoming involved in public security while trying to maintain an illusion of several diverse companies. One private company essentially with deadly capabilities partnering with local governments and the military smacks of the police states of the past.
Not only that, Axon, now partnered with FUSUS, has put on its website that they believe they have a responsibility to create a more just and inclusive workplace and world through their products, technology, and people. Axon makes Tasers, cameras, and software for law enforcement, federal government, military, and private enterprise. Axon is also developing drones as first responders and believes robotic tech can help lead to “safer” and more “equitable” communities. They claim a “continued commitment to innovate for greater public safety” and “have a responsibility to advance this dialogue ethically and with our eyes always trained towards racial equity.”
There are many reasons to be concerned with the Oklahoma City Police Department’s decision to partner with a company with this many red flags with its technology and capabilities to potentially be used against the public it is claiming to want to protect. Given the ties to DEI ideology and its commitment to promote the controversial ideals of DEI in law enforcement, the public has every right to demand that the OKC Police Department delay the implementation of this system until the public has more input into the process. O, they could just remove themselves from the decision to get involved with this company and find a way to improve law enforcement safety and investigative capabilities using far less questionable methods.