How Do You Balance Biometric Security and Privacy Concerns?
The Future Attribute Screening Technology is a project funded by both the Department of Homeland Security and Draper Laboratory is being done in Cambridge, MA. The goal of the project is to provide a screening device that can better detect a bomber or terrorist, while not creating false positives due to persons being stressed out at the airport or other checkpoint scenario. Using a combination of technologies, the Future Attribute Screening Technology can detect normal and abnormal behaviors in persons monitored by the device.
Robert P. Burns, the project manager for this research initiative, explains that the goal of the project is to track involuntary, physiological reactions that may not be noticed by a human observer. When a person has malicious intent, there are certain physiological responses that can be observed that are different from the physiological responses a person has from stress that isn’t caused by harboring malicious intent. These are the responses the devices are looking for. There is a guard stationed at a metal detector, some sensors to monitor physiological responses to a series of twelve questions, an eye tracking device, two heart rate measuring systems and a thermal imaging device to measure the changes of heat in a person’s face. Lastly, there is a device underfoot to measure if a person is fidgeting. No single measure is designed to set off an alarm, but a combination of the devices can.
Nationally renowned psychologist, Paul Ekman, is ambivalent about the whole thing. A consultant for the Future Attribute Screening Technology project, he is unconvinced that any technology will be capable of replacing a highly trained individual in it’s ability to detect a person intending to do harm. Paul Ekman directs a company that trains government agencies.
Burns says that the technology is not designed to hold personal information that could be used to identify subjects, as it is designed to clear its memory after each use. The technology does not make lists or create files. Strict regulations and oversight are planned to protect the privacy of the individuals being screened. Their ultimate goal is to have a technology that can be used without having a person performing an interview with the individuals being screened, that the technology will be able to perform detection screening as individuals walk through the checkpoint. For those of you that remember being able to walk freely through the airport and meet people at the gate that they were flying into, this could be the technology that brings those days back. One can hope at least.
Future Attribute Screening Technology Raises Privacy Concerns
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