The Electronic Privacy Information Center has received a document from the Bureau of Customs outlining the performance specifications of predator drones that are used to patrol the US border. The Department of Homeland Security’s border patrol drones are outfitted to distinguish arm subjects from unarmed ones and have the ability to intercept communication signals.
The surveillance system that is part of the border patrol drones is capable of identifying a standing human being and night as likely on armed or not (based on the position of arms). The border patrol drones are also capable of intercepting wireless signals. While detecting weapons makes sense in light of how law enforcement sees drones as a way to watch for potential criminals without putting its own people on the line, signal interception opens up new and unsettling surveillance opportunities, especially as drones become more common.
Drones can intercept wireless signals
The Department of Homeland Security has told CNET that they are not deploying the capability of intercepting wireless signal at this point. Here’s a quote from an unnamed official from the Department of Homeland Security:
Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long standing law enforcement practices.
What you think about the capabilities of the border patrol drones? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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