Aircraft and the Big Pipe surveillance program (Department of Homeland Security)

Jacob Appelbaum filed this request with the Department of Homeland Security of the United States of America.
Tracking #


Multi Request Aircraft and the Big Pipe surveillance program
Due July 20, 2020
Est. Completion None
Awaiting Response


From: Jacob Appelbaum

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Any correspondence or records related to the New York Times story ( ) which reveals that the Department of Homeland Security has flown aircraft over at least fifteen American cities to perform surveillance and law enforcement support for activities relating to protests, demonstrations, and other related issues in the cities during those events. This should include any requests or responses to or from the New York Times itself, as well as responses to and from the Department of Homeland Security or related agency. This data that I am seeking is held by a mixture of agencies related to the Department of Homeland Security including but not limited to the Customs and Border Protection's Air and Marine operations.

The New York Times report specified the existence of at least 270 hours of surveillance. I request copies of such surveillance recordings such as videos, photographs, radio or telephone interception information.

I additionally request a detailed list of all cities which requested or were offered, or where operations were run relating to domestic demonstrations or protests, looting or rioting, or similarly related events.

I am additionally writing to independently request contemporary FAA registration information such as agency name, addresses, ADS-B beacon information, Mode-S transponder identification, FAA tail numbers, as well as the make, model, year of production, and serial numbers for each aircraft. Aircraft should be understood to include helicopters, drones, airplanes, dirigibles, and any other vehicle - man or unmanned - used for these operations or for operations which would, could, or did incidentally collect surveillance data on any activities in cities with protests or demonstrations during the months of May, 2020 and June, 2020. This includes but is not limited to operations above New York City (New York), Buffalo (New York), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Del Rio (Texas), Dayton (Ohio), Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Washington (District of Columbia), Detroit (Michigan), Sierra Vista (Arizona), Corpus Christi (Texas), Portland (Oregon), Oakland (California), Los Angeles (California), and other minor or major American cities.

For each aircraft, I am requesting all maintenance records, vendor documents, emails, as well as other correspondence regarding or related to the aircraft within the last five years as well as any additional equipment attached to any of the aircraft used during the months of May 2020 and June 2020 relating to the demonstrations or related events. For example, if a Harris Corporation's cell site simulator is installed in the aircraft, even temporarily, I request information about this equipment, and its use during the specified time period.

Finally, I am also seeking information about the Department of Homeland Security's "Big Pipe" program. I request all documents, emails, slides, training materials and other communications relating to the Big Pipe program. Furthermore, I request a list of which other federal agencies have access, access and audit logs about their use as well as the point person or contact information for the responsible person at their respective agency.

This information is part of a journalistic research project involving the Seattle Privacy Coalition.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Jacob Appelbaum

From: Department of Homeland Security

Good afternoon, Attached is our final response to your request.  If you need to contact this office again concerning your request, please provide the DHS reference number. This will enable us to quickly retrieve the information you are seeking and reduce our response time. This office can be reached at 866-431-0486. Regards, DHS Privacy Office
Disclosure & FOIA Program
STOP 0655
Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20528-0655
Telephone:  1-866-431-0486 or 202-343-1743
Fax:  202-343-4011
Visit our FOIA website

From: Department of Homeland Security

Jacob Appelbaum
DEPT MR 96500
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, MA, 02144
Dear Jacob Appelbaum:
This notice acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) received on 06/30/2020.     Please use the following unique FOIA tracking number CBP-2020-063282 to track the status of your request.  If you have not already done so, you must create a FOIAonline account at  This is the only method available to check the status of your pending FOIA request. (
Provisions of the Act allow us to recover part of the cost of complying with your request.  We shall charge you for records in accordance with the DHS FOIA regulations outlined on the DHS website, By submitting your request, you have agreed to pay up to $25.00 in applicable processing fees, if any fees associated with your request exceed this amount, CBP shall contact you; however, the first 100 pages are free. (
Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request.  Consistent with 6 C.F.R. Part 5 § 5.5(a) of the DHS FOIA regulations, CBP processes FOIA requests according to their order of receipt.  Although CBP’s goal is to respond within 20 business days of receipt of your request, FOIA does permit a 10-day extension of this time period in certain circumstances pursuant to 6 C.F.R. Part 5 § 5.5(c).  [As your request seeks documents that will require a thorough and wide-ranging search, CBP will invoke a 10-day extension for your request pursuant to 6 C.F.R. Part 5 § 5.5(c). If you would like to narrow the scope of your request, please contact our office.  We will make every effort to comply with your request in a timely manner.] OR [As your request seeks a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records, CBP will invoke a 10-day extension for your request pursuant to  6 C.F.R. Part 5 § 5.5(c).  If you would like to narrow the scope of your request, please contact our office.  We will make every effort to comply with your request in a timely manner.] OR [As the subject matter of your request is of substantial interest to two or more components of CBP or of substantial interest to another agency, we will need to consult with those entities before we issue a final response.  Due to these unusual circumstances, CBP will invoke a 10-day extension for your request pursuant to 6 C.F.R. Part 5 § 5.5(c). If you would like to narrow the scope of your request, please contact our office.  We will make every effort to comply with your request in a timely manner.]
CBP’s FOIA Division is working hard to reduce the amount of time necessary to respond to FOIA requests.  We truly appreciate your continued patience.
For additional information please consult CBP FOIA website please click on FOIA Act Resources or visit ( (
U.S. Customs and Border Protection