A Homeland Security project initiative is developing a system that will accurately predict and detect crimes,
making it possible to prevent them prior to occurrence. This Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST), which will use sensor technologies to pick up on behavioral and physiological cues, is being developed to identify “the intent or desire to cause harm…rapidly, reliably and remotely,” according to the DHS website. In assessing how likely someone is to commit a crime, FAST will gather information from and monitor things like changes in body movement, body heat, eye movements, breathing patterns, voice pitch, and changes in speech.
Internal DHS documents recently obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) via two Freedom of Information Act Requests filed in August reveal that the program is still in its early stages. CNET reports that the program has, however, been tested both in a lab and on DHS employees, in an “undisclosed location in the northeast.”
So what are the intentions behind the FAST project? That still remains unclear, but possibilities suggested by the DHS–both publicly and internally–have included airport checkpoints, border crossings and large public events. Program development has already drawn some concerns about privacy, most notably from EPIC, but department officials maintain that “The system is not designed to capture or store personally-identifiable information (PII). Any information that is gathered…is only used for laboratory protocol as we are doing research and development.”
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