The company wants to deploy armed drones and tase suspected migrants along the US borders, drawing backlash from rights activists.
A migrant rights group has condemned an American tech startup’s video pitch that shows a stun gun-armed drone attacking a migrant crossing the US-Mexico border.
In the promotional video obtained by The Intercept, Brinc’s founder and CEO, Blake Resnick, demonstrates how his company’s drones can be used to detect, track, interrogate, and tase whoever is suspected to be a migrant.
The Latino actor in the video referred to as “Jose” is approached by the Brinc drone as he walks in the middle of a desert.
Upon Jose’s refusal to show identification, the drone fires a Taser at him. Jose drops to his knees and rolls on the ground.
“A Peter Thiel-backed startup founder attached a taser to a drone and uses it to tase an actor playing a Latino,” Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign director at Mijente, a Latino advocacy and migrant rights group, told TRT World on Monday.
“This is a racist fantasy and this dehumanizing policing hardware should never be used. We demand a clear commitment from the Department of Homeland Security that they will not invest our tax dollars on this kind of weapon.”
The video was made in 2018, when the Trump administration had begun discussing a so-called “smart wall”, a term referred to as sensors, scanners, and drones along the border by American lawmakers.
“Every year, over $100 billion of narcotics and half a million people flow through areas just like this one,” Resnick says in the video.
“There’s no wall here and it probably wouldn’t work anyway,” referring to the physical wall that Donald Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
“There is a solution,” Resnick says, pointing at the metal chest containing the drone.
He then continues to explain the “solution” that he calls the “Wall of Drones”, a fleet of armed robotic quadcopters with human-detection and self-piloting abilities that could be deployed across the border.
Resnick had said that Brinc’s drone technology was founded after the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting in a bid to aid law enforcement agencies.
In response to the video, Resnick told The Intercept via email that the video “is immature, deeply regrettable and not at all representative of the direction I have taken the company in since”.
He said the Wall of Drones was “never fully developed, sold, or used operationally” and was discontinued in 2018 because it is “prone to disastrous misuse”.
Twitter users also condemned the video and the scenario depicted in it, calling it “atrocious”.
“The same racist logic applies to all this border surveillance tech. This company just said the quiet part loud,” on social media user said.
Gonzalez of Mijente, decrying the technology demonstrated in the video, told the Intercept: “It’s terrifying to think that this is not just an awful idea that someone brings up in a brainstorming session, but [Brinc has] gone so far as to make the video”.
“You cannot trust a company that is even putting ideas like this out into the world,” she further said.
Brinc currently offers LEMUR S drones to police and other first responders that resemble the so-called Wall of Drones but do not have a stun gun installed.
The company also sells the BRINC BALL, a two-way communication device “designed for de-escalation and negotiation for first responders”, according to their website.