Is this progress or a totalitarian nightmare? As our friends at Fox News like to say, you decide:
MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security’s directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers.
It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack.
This whole security array — the scanners and screeners who make up the mobile lab — is called “Future Attribute Screening Technology” — or FAST — because it is designed to get passengers through security in two to four minutes, and often faster.
But the testing — and the device itself — are not without their problems. This invasive scanner, which catalogues your vital signs for non-medical reasons, seems like an uninvited doctor’s exam and raises many privacy issues.
But DHS says this is not Big Brother. Once you are through the FAST portal, your scrutiny is over and records aren’t kept. “Your data is dumped,” said Burns. “The information is not maintained — it doesn’t track who you are.”
Burns noted his team’s goal is to “restore a sense of freedom.” Once MALINTENT is rolled out in airports, it could give us a future where we can once again wander onto planes with super-sized cosmetics and all the bottles of water we can carry — and most importantly without that sense of foreboding that has haunted Americans since Sept. 11.
“Human Factors division in Homeland Security’s directorate for Science and Technology” – sorry, but that title sounds a bit foreboding…