Texas Borders go Web 2.0

June 4, 2006

Topics: Accessibility.

Surveillance of the border between Texas and Mexico seems to be heading towards a new "Web 2.0" like user interactivity. According to articles in BBC News and numerous other papers.

It’s not really quite that sophisticated, of course. Texas will be creating a 24-hour telephone hotline to report possible activies, rather than providing a neat AJAX interface – but it does seem like the government is becoming more and more aware of the possibilities offered by modern web technologies. Along with the recent requests for web firms to preserve collected data for two years, they’ve been using commercial records to track information for a number of years.

The plan to monitor the Texas border is not particularly well thought out – intending to help control illegal border crossings, the practice may actually make it easier.

Also worth noting that computer access isn’t limited to the good guys. It surely won’t take long before other clandestine crossers, such as armed smugglers, find that they can use the cameras’ images to determine the best places, and the best times, to cross. Worse, they could put property owners at risk if somebody decides it’s better to find a camera and take it out, rather than look for a new crossing point.

The Brownsville Herald

What makes the idea interesting to me is the very thought of a governmentally established "vigilante" warning system. It isn’t at all new to request citizens assistance in discovering illegal activities, but using the internet to enable citizen reporting seems a new step.

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