SAN FRANCISCO—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Tuesday published scores of new photos of surveillance technology recently deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border, depicting a digital dragnet that threatens civil liberties and human rights.
“The rapid expansion of digital surveillance along the U.S.-Mexico border doesn’t just affect migrants—it affects anyone living near either side of the border as well, putting them in the constant shadow of billions of dollars worth of privacy-invading technology,” said Jason Kelley, EFF’s Associate Director of Digital Strategy. “About two out of three Americans live within 100 miles of a land or sea border, putting them within Customs and Border Protection’s special enforcement zone, so surveillance overreach must concern us all.”
The photos were taken by EFF fact-finding delegations during two trips to the California, Arizona, and New Mexico borders, and may be republished free under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license with credit to EFF. Some of the technology was located using public records such as environmental assessments and procurement data. This is believed to be the most up-to-date, independently verified collection of photos of border surveillance technology currently available under an open license.
“The public should not have to rely on homeland security agencies to illustrate the so-called 'virtual wall,'" said EFF Director of Investigations David Maass. "By releasing these images, we are providing researchers and journalists an alternative to government propaganda when presenting visual representations of border security technology."
The images include various types of surveillance towers adopted by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) over the last decade, including integrated surveillance towers from vendor Elbit Systems of America; remote video surveillance systems from vendor General Dynamics; an autonomous surveillance tower from CBP’s newest vendor Anduril Industries; and truck-mounted mobile surveillance capabilities from vendor FLIR. CBP is pursuing a new endeavor to bring these varied systems under one "Integrated Surveillance Tower" program, in which the agency plans to triple its total number of towers.
The images also include two new moored surveillance balloons called tactical aerostats. One was launched without notice over the summer in Nogales, AZ; the second, in southern New Mexico, had not been previously reported. A third aerostat will be launched soon in Sasabe, AZ, among 17 planned in the next fiscal year, according to a CBP report.
For more about EFF’s border photos: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2022/11/eff-releases-images-surveillance-us-mexico-border-under-creative-commons
For the photos: https://www.eff.org/borderphotos
For a video about the border trip: https://www.eff.org/borderphotosvid
For more on border surveillance: https://www.eff.org/pages/atlas-surveillance-us-mexico-border-communities