A Department of Homeland Security program that tries to detect air passengers who are “up to no good” is raising privacy concerns, says a CNN report which aired Tuesday.
CNN’s Jeanne Meserve described DHS’s Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) as “marrying a lot of existing technology, some of it medical,” to measure breathing, heart rate, blinking, fidgeting, and other bodily functions of passengers at airports.
The idea is essentially to create a remote lie detector, where sensors placed at airport security screening areas would be able to monitor a passenger’s physical reaction to questions being asked by screeners.
Critics have likened the concept to the “Department of Pre-Crime” in the 2001 film Minority Report, which describes a future where persons are caught and convicted of crimes before they occur.
Originally entitled Project Hostile Intent, the program was revealed by the science magazine NewScientist in 2007. According to a report at the time in the UK’s Guardian, “the new devices are expected to be trialled at a handful of airports, borders and ports of entry by 2012.”
As of last year, the program was “running at about 78 percent accuracy on mal-intent detection, and 80 percent on deception,” according to DHS science spokesman John Verrico.
The Guardian reported in 2007:
The plans describe how systems based on video cameras, laserlight, infra-red, audio recordings and eye tracking technology are expected to scour crowds looking for unusual behaviour, with the aim of identifying people who should be approached and quizzed by security staff, New Scientist magazine reports.
The project hopes to advance a security system already employed by the US transportation security administration that monitors people for unintentional facial twitches, called “micro-expressions”, that can suggest someone is lying or trying to conceal information.
“Questions remain, however, as to how secure the system is. The machines could reveal health conditions like heart murmurs and breathing problems as well as stress levels – which would be an invasion of privacy,” NewScientist reported last year.
“It is an invasion of privacy,” Jay Stanley, director of public education for the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program, told CNN. “Nobody has the right to look at my intimate bodily functions, my heart rate, my breathing, from afar.”
And, as Meserve noted, “some experts are doubtful the system can distinguish between potential terrorists and people stressed for other reasons, like a late flight.”
“There’s not much science here,” said Stephen Fienberg, professor of statistics and social science at Carnegie Mellon University. “In fact, there may be no science here. And I’m really worried that we’re going to carried away by the hype, and there’s just nothing here. The emperor may have no clothes.”
This video is from CNN’s American Morning, broadcast Oct. 6, 2009.
Kamala Harris comes out swinging for abortion rights: ‘People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies’
At Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Ohio, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) condemned the attacks on abortion rights unfurling in state legislatures and courts nationwide — and urged Americans to pay attention.
"This is the sixth debate we have had in this presidential cycle," said Harris. "Not one word with all of these discussions about health care, on women's access to health care. It's outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. It's not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies."
Trump officials are worried the president is trying to find a ‘scapegoat’: report
Congress and the Southern District of New York are not the only people investigating President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine, the White House has launched an inquiry of their own, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
"President Trump has for weeks sought to unmask the whistle-blower who shed light on his Ukraine dealings. But instead aides have fixated on one another: Advisers began a fact-finding review that some fear is a hunt for a scapegoat, according to White House aides and other people familiar with it," the newspaper reported. "They are seeking to understand White House officials’ actions around Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, which is central to the whistle-blower’s allegation that Mr. Trump abused his power."
Bernie Sanders: ‘It would be a disaster’ if Democrats only focused on impeaching Trump
At Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate in Westerville, Ohio, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was asked his view of impeaching President Donald Trump. His response was that impeachment should move forward — but not obscure the policy goals the Democratic Party holds for the American people.
"Let me make a point," said Sanders, who is coming off of successful treatment of a heart attack. "I think it's absolutely imperative we go forward with impeachment. I hope that he is impeached. But I think what would be a disaster, if the American people believe that all we were doing is taking on Trump."