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Should America Build a Virtual Border Wall? Or Just Crowdfund It...

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As America's government faces its longest-ever shutdown over the president's demands for border wall funding, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested "possible alternatives to a physical wall," according to one Silicon Valley newspaper: Among the president's justifications for a wall is to stop drugs from coming into the United States, so Pelosi proposed spending "hundreds of millions of dollars" for technology to scan cars for drugs, weapons and contraband at the border. "The positive, shall we say, almost technological wall that can be built is what we should be doing," Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said during her weekly press conference. That didn't go over well with Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group that on Friday started a petition asking Democrats to drop plans for a "technological wall" that it says could threaten Fourth Amendment rights that guard against unreasonable searches and seizures. "Current border surveillance programs subject people to invasive and unconstitutional searches of their cell phones and laptops, location tracking, drone surveillance, and problematic watchlists," the group's petition says... In December, the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General released a report that showed searches of electronic devices at the border were up nearly 50 percent in 2017. The report also found that border agents were not always following standard operating procedures for searches, including failing to properly document such searches. In addition, information copied by agents were not always deleted as required. The article also notes that Anduril Industries -- founded by Oculus Rift designer Palmer Luckey (and funded by Peter Thiel) -- is one of several companies already working on "a virtual border wall." CNN also reports on a GoFundMe campaign started by an Air Force veteran to simply crowdfund the construction of the wall. Though 340,747 people pledged over $20 million, it failed to reach its $1 billion goal, and is now pointing supporters to a newly-formed non-profit corporation -- named "We Build the Wall." Meanwhile, another 7,121 GoFundMe members have pledged $160,985 to a rival campaign raising money for ladders to climb over Trump's wall.

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