In World War II, we had “plane spotters,” citizen volunteers who scoured the sky for the Aircraft Warning Service. Everyone from Boy Scouts to little old ladies doing their knitting watched and listened for activity in the sky, relaying information to an Army center that tracked and mapped the sightings.
Now, in an almost poetically exquisite matchup of skills to job function, folks who sit at their computers all day by choice have found something really useful to do with their time and talents. They’re watching the U.S. border to spot a different kind of invasion.
A new idea for hackers is to monitor webcams at the southern border to catch people trying to enter the country illegally. One hacker on the 4chan political /pol/ board seems to have discovered this on Saturday, and it immediately went viral, with hackers in a mad dash to find images and report them to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Here’s the tweet that started it all, according to Milo Yiannopoulos:
/pol/ discovers that they can use webcams to scan the US-Mexico border for illegal immigrants, sending tips to Border Patrol. pic.twitter.com/EaZ52ClXGO
— /pol/ News Network (@polNewsNetwork1) March 19, 2017
“How did I just find out that we can watch the border and report illegals trying to cross from the comfort of our homes and/or basements,” the tweet said. Within minutes, hackers were doing their thing and posting images of border crossings, allegedly obtained from border security cameras.
Technological border surveillance is but one “layer” of a multifaceted border protection system and includes Integrated Fixed Towers, a Remote Video Surveillance System and aerial monitoring initiatives, according to Wired.
The question, after the electronic infrastructure is in place, is the investment in monitoring. And it appears we have a ready army of citizen volunteers. The U.S. Border Patrol needs help. Hackers need a life. Surely I can’t be the first to suggest we get these nice folks together.
@polNewsNetwork1 This should be advertised everywhere! Bored? Catch an illegal! Mad? Catch an illegal! Win/win
— Clark Kent (@icamefromkrypt1) March 19, 2017
Although the activity is not officially sanctioned, hackers don’t generally care about rules and they can do a lot of good here. They have the skills, the numbers and (ahem) the time on their hands to provide a silent security force that the government cannot.
It’s a computer geek’s dream: Watch someone else doing something, be a hero by reporting the action, and (so one hears) it’s as much fun as a video game. First one to reach 100 verified “catches” wins a medal. Given anonymously, of course.
In this case, it might be an example of the end justifying the means.
Please share on Facebook and Twitter to salute these everyday citizens for doing their part in keeping our border safe.
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