All entries for September 2008
September 20, 2008
Polygraph like machines to “spot terrorists” by scanning general public for anxiety
Friday, Sept 19, 2008
The Department of Homeland Security has previewed new technology that they promise will help rout out terrorists and other dangerous people in public places by covertly bio-scanning subjects as they walk past sets of cameras.
It may seem Orwellian, but on Thursday, the Homeland Security Department showed off an early version of physiological screeners that could spot terrorists, reports USA Today.
According to DHS officials, the scanners work like polygraphs but without the subjects having to be wired up to them. They measure body temperature, pulse and breathing regularity. Any sudden changes recorded could indicate “the kind of anxiety exuded by a would-be terrorist or criminal.”
According to the report, the new technology will not just be limited to use in airports:
The system would be portable and fast, said project manager Robert Burns, who envisions machines that scan people as they walk into airports, train stations or arenas. Those flagged by the machines would be interviewed in front of cameras that measure minute facial movements for signs they are lying.
Law experts have charged that the technology constitutes a government enforced “medical exam” which would violate civil rights.
There can be no doubt that this technology is part of Homeland Security’s Project Hostile Intent (PHI) program, on which we reported just over one year ago.
Scientists were tasked by the DHS to develop technology by 2010 that can scan the bodily functions of citizens, without them knowing, and uncover any possible hostile intent or deception.
The DHS revealed to The New Scientist that it wishes to develop a lie detector-type test that can be used remotely, which was described as “an advantage because it would not interfere with the flow of a crowd and it could be used without the target’s knowledge.”
Other technology to be used for PHI includes lasers, cameras, eye trackers, microphones and heart rate and breathing sensors.
The new technology complements already escalating security measures in airports and train stations such as biometric body scans, lie detector tests, behavior analysis, facial analysis and spot teams to spy on passengers.
In addition, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started conducting random additional at-gate screening earlier this year of airline passengers who display “involuntary physical and physiological” actions indicating stress, fear or deception.
To anyone who remembers Poindexter’s gait analysis this is pretty disturbing stuff.
We are being acclimatized to these things, first within airports and stations. Technology and measures that you don’t even see used in prisons or high security facilities are being passed off as completely normal in public places.
Furthermore, from the wording in these reports, it is clear that the intention is to roll out the exact same measures throughout public places in major cities and subject the general public to intense airport style harassment on the city streets.
How long before we see checkpoint officials inspecting internal passports and consumers body scanned merely to enter a supermarket or a sports arena?