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Could eventually be deployed at airports, border crossings, and other public gatherings

Security personnel working for the Department of Homeland Security may soon be able to remotely monitor crowds for the behavioral signals of a terrorist, using a computer system that scans their pulses, body language, breathing rates, and facial temperatures.

The program, called “Future Attribute Screening Technology,” or FAST, works as a combination of custom software and crowd-monitoring body sensors, strategically placed at airports, U.S. border crossings, and other public, high-security areas.

In simulated scenarios, the DHS says FAST is accurate in detecting suspicious behavior in almost four out of five cases. One such trial, run recently at an equestrian ranch in Maryland, paid more than 140 participants $150 to walk through FAST’s sensor array; a handful of the participants were given instructions to act shifty, evasive, deceptive, or even hostile. FAST had an effective accuracy rate of “about [78 percent] on mal-intent detection, and [80 percent] on deception,” according to spokesman John Verrico.

“We're still very early on in this research, but it is looking very promising,” he said.

Individuals detected as suspicious by FAST will be pulled aside for light questioning by security staff. Information processed by the system will never be matched with names, said Verrico, and it will only be used to help security screeners decide whom to question. After that, data from FAST is discarded.

Beyond simply discarding data, Verrico points out that the system is subject to intense privacy controls (PDF).

DHS researchers are designing FAST with mobility in mind, and over the long term would like to roll out portable vehicles for use in concerts, sporting events, and other public gatherings: once the technology is perfected, writes New Scientist’s Short Sharp Science blog, FAST trucks could be as common a sighting at public gatherings as “mobile toilets and catering trucks.”

The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s John Verdi said FAST is “substantially more invasive than screening in airports,” calling it a “medical exam” that the government has no right to conduct. Critics are concerned that the program could reveal physical conditions like heart murmurs, breathing problems, and high stress levels – a blatant privacy invasion – as well as set off false alarms.

“What determines your heart rate is a whole bunch ofreasons besides hostile intent,” said Michigan State University’s Timothy Levine, an expert on deceptive behavior.

FAST appears to be yet another aspect of the U.S. – as well as the rest of the world’s – governments’ growing fascination with biometric data on citizens: the FBI’s “Next Generation Identification” system, currently still in development, seeks to catalogue almost every major identifying characteristic about the U.S. criminal population, including fingerprints, retinal prints, and tattoo/scar markings.

Like the NGI, FAST is still under development and has several years left before it is ready for widespread, public usage – if it even makes it that far. The program is in its second year in development, and has three left to go. USA Today notes that the Transportation Security Administration already has more than 2,000 human screeners doing the same thing – essentially paving the way for their replacement and more widespread deployment by FAST.

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RE: Nazi Germany
By mdogs444 on 9/24/2008 9:31:18 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah. We put our own citizens in concentration camps and mass murder them. We also force them to be in the military to do our bidding, or else be killed.

RE: Nazi Germany
By omnicronx on 9/24/2008 10:24:30 AM , Rating: 1
You mean kind of like this? Minus the mass murdering.

On February 19th 1942 Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Under the terms of the Order, some 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the US were removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.
In 1943 all internees over the age of seventeen were given a loyalty test. They were asked two questions:

1. Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered? (Females were asked if they were willing to volunteer for the Army Nurse Corps or Women's Army Corps.)

2. Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization?

RE: Nazi Germany
By FITCamaro on 9/24/2008 10:37:44 AM , Rating: 4
Well the second question is kinda part of being a citizen of a country.

I won't defend that the Japanese camps here in WW2 were right. But to compare them to concentration camps. No. They were not made into a slave labor force, starved, or experimented on.

RE: Nazi Germany
By foolsgambit11 on 9/24/2008 3:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
Continued citizenship in the United States is not based on any loyalty test. Of course, they needn't have been asked those questions, after all, since come age 18, they'd have had to sign up for the draft anyway. Because being a citizen is not about fighting to defend the country, per se, but rather about following the laws of the land.

I definitely have a problem with the second half of the second question - the part that asks them to forswear any allegiance to Japan, but only because it isn't asked of all citizens who are born with dual citizenship.

RE: Nazi Germany
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2008 10:14:47 AM , Rating: 3
The US does not recognize dual citizenship.

RE: Nazi Germany
By amanojaku on 9/24/2008 10:08:58 PM , Rating: 1
I won't defend that the Japanese camps here in WW2 were right. But to compare them to concentration camps. No. They were not made into a slave labor force, starved, or experimented on.

<sarcasm>Great! It's OK if we round up all the people of Caucasian decent and put them in camps, because the descendants of slave owners must be evil.</sarcasm> Some things are wrong, period. FYI, internment camps existed for German and Italian Americans, as well.

RE: Nazi Germany
By glennpratt on 9/24/2008 10:38:30 AM , Rating: 2
Oh yeah, except for mass murdering my high school was like the Nazi's as well.

RE: Nazi Germany
By Spyvie on 9/24/2008 11:53:26 AM , Rating: 1
Standing armys in America could never happen...

RE: Nazi Germany
By foolsgambit11 on 9/24/2008 3:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, I was in that unit, once upon a time.

RE: Nazi Germany
By Samus on 9/25/2008 6:20:35 AM , Rating: 2
Not one Japanese civilian was ever murdered in US confinement camps. It's not similar to anything from Nazi-Germany or what any other country has ever done throughout history. We were attacked by Japan. How should we have reacted? Our intent wasn't to keep them 'hostage' we were simply protecting ourselves from possible spies. We didn't take it as a threat from the Japanese 'people' as we were quite aware the Japanese government was behind it. Unfortunately, their people suffered for their governments poor decisions.

Don't fuck with America. Hell, even if you don't fuck with America, she'll fuck with you (ala Iraq)

RE: Nazi Germany
By Myg on 9/24/08, Rating: -1
RE: Nazi Germany
By FITCamaro on 9/25/2008 10:16:29 AM , Rating: 3
Very true. Self responsibility for young people in the US is all but nonexistent.

RE: Nazi Germany
By Myg on 9/25/2008 3:05:49 PM , Rating: 2
0 - rating; sorry, truth hurts too much?

You lot need to get over your unfounded and self-assumed superiority.

RE: Nazi Germany
By clovell on 9/26/2008 11:07:23 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're the one assuming right now.

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