Predator Drones Patrol U.S. Border

Unarmed, one hopes


The Customs and Border Protection agency deploys drones capable of "identifying" a human figure, according to documents obtained by an advocacy group that tracks the use of surveillance technology.

The border agency says it does not use facial recognition technology, but cameras that can distinguish between a beast and a human being and glean whether someone is carrying a rifle or a backpack.

Since 2005, the agency has contracted with the San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical System and bought 10 Predator drones for use on land and sea borders. The contracts were unearthed this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. The advocacy group has pressed for laws and regulations to ensure privacy, as civilian drones become more common inside the United States.