The alternative high-tech wall on the us-mexican border is also debate

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An alternative high-tech to the wall course by Donald Trump? The proposal of the democrats to a virtual barrier to “smart” to secure the border with Mexico elicits the fear of an oversight that compromised the respect for individual freedoms.

Last month, democratic lawmakers have supported the idea of a border security “is important, but smart “without” the costs associated with physical barriers “.

Some of the projects of the “virtual wall” using the technology of start-ups such as Quanergy and Anduril Industries are already being tested along the u.s.-mexican border.

They are based on systems using the artificial intelligence, drones and other electronic tools to replace the project of the republican president to erect a barrier of steel or concrete.

The benefits of a high-tech solution are numerous: less expensive, work faster as well as effects on the environment, less marked, according to its proponents.

However, activists are concerned about the impact of a large-scale deployment of technologies that can achieve the freedom of the individual.

One of the risks, they stress, is to put in place a profiling based on racial origins, and gather data in an abusive manner.

They highlight the possible use of algorithms giving priority, for example ” targeting based on risk “.

These tools could “reproduce the prejudices of their programmers, overwhelming vulnerable communities, lacking transparency, democratic, and encouraging the collection and analysis of quantities of data” undue, according to a letter sent recently to legislators by 20 organizations including the american Union of individual freedom, the Foundation of the freedom of the Press; or the national Center of immigration law.

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The letter also emphasizes that technologies such as facial recognition, or voice authentication, the iris of the eye “, raise important concerns about the respect of private life “.

“The use of the surveillance technology, which would not be controlled, would jeopardize the privacy rights of everyone,” said Elliot Harmon of the foundation Electronic Frontier, one of the signatory groups.

Daily life scrutinized ?

He cited the increased use of drones, monitoring without distinction of any person present in the vicinity of the border, including u.s. citizens and other residents with legal status.

“The technology is not the panacea to the problems at the border,” says Mana Azarmi, the Center for democracy and technology.

“If the Congress decides to finance the technology to monitor people at the border, such financing must be conditioned on measures to ensure the respect of human rights,” he adds.

This debate is emerging at a time when Donald Trump is stepping up his campaign for a physical wall, even if a recent compromise between the parliamentary democrats and republicans on funding includes an amount that would be far less than the five billion dollars wanted by the White House.

For Matthew Feeney from the centre of reflection libertarian Cato Institute, a wall of “smart” would be in many ways worse than a real wall.

“It would be naive to believe that a piece of equipment for the patrol surveillance along the border would not take into account the daily lives of Americans,” he says in a blog article.

On the contrary, to Darrell West, who heads the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, ” rather than spend a lot of money to hire new people (dedicated to the surveillance of the border), it would be more rational to deploy sensors, cameras, and drones “.

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For its part, the republican representative from Texas’s Will Hurd, in an interview with Rolling Stone, described the physical wall ” of the solution of the third century “. It also figures arguing in favor of a virtual wall: a wall smart would cost $ 500,000 per mile (1.6 km), compared to 18 to 24 million per mile for a concrete barrier or steel.

“This is a smarter and more effective for the barrier-border,” says Darrell West.