An internal U.S. Department of Homeland Security document indicates that a controversial program designed to predict whether a person will commit a crime is already being tested on some members of the public. The latest developments, which reveal efforts to “collect, process, or retain information on” members of “the public,” came to light through an internal DHS document obtained under open-government laws by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. DHS calls its “pre-crime” system Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST.
FAST is designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns. Occupation and age are also considered. According to a government source blink rate and pupil variation are measured too. The FAST system has the capability to monitor physiological and behavioral cues without contact. That means capturing data like the heart rate and steadiness of gaze of passengers about to board a plane. The cues are then run through algorithms in real-time to compute the probability that an individual is planning to commit a crime.
FAST is currently under testing by DHS and has been described in press reports as a “precrime” program. If implemented, FAST will purportedly rely upon complex statistical algorithms that can aggregate data from multiple databases in an attempt to “predict” future criminal or terrorist acts, most likely through stealth cybersurveillance and covert data monitoring of ordinary citizens.
Documents released by DHS indicate that individuals could be arrested and face other serious consequences based upon statistical algorithms and predictive analytical assessments. Specifically, projected consequences of FAST ‘can range from none to being temporarily detained to deportation, prison, or death.’
Although DHS has publicly suggested that FAST could be used at airport checkpoints–the Transportation Security Administration is part of the department, after all–the government appears to have grander ambitions. One internal DHS document (PDF) also obtained by EPIC through the Freedom of Information Act says a mobile version of FAST “could be used at security checkpoints such as border crossings or at large public events such as sporting events or conventions.”
According to D.H.S. The FAST program is entirely voluntary and does not store any personally-identifiable information (PII) from participants once the experiment is completed. But once deployed in the wider public,how “voluntary” will it really be? will it be as “voluntary” as refusing a pat down, or now a pre-crime scan, thus now making you an immediate suspect,regardless of wether or not you have ill intent.