DHS Launches ‘Minority Report’ Pre-Crime Detection Program

Could your ethnicity, gender, breathing and heart rate provide clues to criminal intent?

The Department of Homeland Security apparently thinks so. The agency is already testing a program on select members of the public to determine if algorithms using these factors could indicate mal-intent, according to an internal document obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and passed to CNET.

The system, dubbed FAST – or Future Attribute Screening Technology – was just an idea in 2007 and is now already in operation, according to the June 2010 document. FAST collected or retained information on unspecified members of the public in at least one field test conducted in an undisclosed location in the Northeast. A limited trial was also conducted with DHS employees.

The system’s sensors will “non-intrusively collect video images, audio recordings, and psychophysiological measurements from the employees,” according to a description of the trial program used with employees.

FAST is designed to track and monitor body movements, voice-pitch and rhythm changes, eye movement, body heat, breathing patterns, blink rate and pupil variation.

“The department’s Science and Technology Directorate has conducted preliminary research in operational settings to determine the feasibility of using non-invasive physiological and behavioral sensor technology and observational techniques to detect signs of stress, which are often associated with intent to do harm,” according to a statement DHS gave CNET. “The FAST program is only in the preliminary stages of research and there are no plans for acquiring or deploying this type of technology at this time.”