Trump’s old NBC boss pitches $60 million plan to use mass surveillance to predict potential mass shooters
President Donald Trump. (AFP/File / Brendan Smialowski)

President Donald Trump's old boss at NBC has briefed him on a surveillance program intended to identify potential mass shooters.


The proposal is part of a larger effort to establish a new agency called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency, or HARPA, modeled after the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, reported the Washington Post.

The proposed agency would be part of the Health and Human Services Department, and its director would be appointed by the president and have a separate budget, according to three sources with knowledge of discussions around the plan.

The concept developed by the Suzanne Wright Foundation was first discussed with senior White House staffers and the Domestic Policy Council in June 2017, but the plan has gained support after a pair mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton left 31 dead in a matter of hours.

The foundation founded by former NBC chairman Bob Wright, who Trump knows from his days as the star of "The Apprentice," approached the administration last week with a proposal for the “Safe Home” -- or “Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes" -- project.

Wright told the newspaper that Ivanka Trump would be the most effective champion for his $40 million to $60 million proposal, which calls for the development of a “sensor suite" using advanced artificial intelligence to identify changes in mental status to identify potentially violent behavior.

That research would eventually be opened to the public.

The proposal lists some widely used technology -- including Apple Watches; Fitbits; Amazon Echo and Google Home -- that could be used to help collect data.

Other data collected by health care providers, such as fMRIs, tractography and image analysis, could also be used to predict violent behavior, although the project's proponents insist it would not collect sensitive health data about individuals without their permission.

They said the government would only use the data to identify risk factors.

The president and his Republican allies have said mentally ill people are primarily responsible for mass shootings, and have blocked attempts to strengthen gun safety laws, but experts disagree that mental illness is linked to gun violence.

Mental illness can be a factor in mass shootings, experts say, but it's rarely a predictor.