After the Department of Homeland Security attempted to seek out proposals for possible compact drones to be utilized by agents of the U.S. Border Patrol, submissions began to swarm in. There were so many submissions that the department had to cease to accept them over two months before they initially planned to stop.
Originally meant to shut down on the 14 of July, the department’s attempt, as a part of their Silicon Valley Innovation Program, closed on the 27 of April, according to posts on their purchasing board.
“As this was a pilot program, we were hoping to see a robust response from industry, but did not have a specific target [number of bids] in mind,” director of the US Border and Custom Protection’s program Commercial Technology Innovation Program, Ari Shuler, said. “Our team’s expectations were exceeded as we received more than three dozen proposals.”
The CBP used drones in the past to monitor the US border since back in 2005. The newer drones, which are due to be smaller and lighter so that agents can carry to and launch off the field, will join the fleet.
However the additional features, such as facial recognition technology, worries privacy advocates.
“I can understand why DHS is interested in these kinds of drones. Drones are a potentially very useful tool for law enforcement,” policy analyst Matthew Feeney of the Cato Institute said.
“The concern I have is drones and facial recognition are two technologies that really could — without adequate oversight — change for the worse the state of surveillance in the United States,” Feeney stated.
He mentioned that only people wanted for crimes, or who have a history of crimes, should be on database of facial recognition.
“If they were going to be deployed on the border proper — what every American thinks of as the border when you say border — then the surveillance issues are much diminished,” said Stanley. “Once you get into areas where Americans work and live, the privacy problems escalate.”