New border security bill boon to surveillance technology companies

Published 21 November 2005

In a move which would benefit surveillance technology companies, the House Homeland Security Committee last week passed H.R. 4312, a broad-ranging border security bill which would strengthen surveillance IT at the U.S. borders and increase reliance on Defense Department technology in border surveillance, among other goals. The legislation was sponsored by Committee chairman Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), and it would enhance personnel at the borders and beef up communications and use of canine teams, among other features. The legislation called on DHS to submit a comprehensive plan which would assess existing surveillance technologies, describe new surveillance technologies to be used and their compatibility with the legacy systems, and describe the role of the Science & Technology directorate of DHS in bolstering border security. The plan should also describe obstacles to deployment and provide a detailed estimate of all costs of implementation and maintenance. DHS should also show Congress how it would work with the Defense Department to develop a joint strategic plan to increase the usage of Pentagon equipment,” UAVs, tethered aerostat radars, and other surveillance equipment,” in assisting with the border surveillance and security.

The bill set 1 October 2006 as a deadline for DHS and the Attorney General to enhance connectivity between the department’s Automated Biometric Fingerprint Identification System database and the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

-see H.R. 4312