FAST Security? Maybe We Should Slow Down…

FAST (Future Attribute Screening Technology) is a Homeland Security-funded project that could change the way we move through security checkpoints in high-risk establishments. In lieu of metal detectors and x-ray devices, this developing technology uses advanced sensors and cameras to detect the physiological signs of an individual with the intent to do harm. This includes heart rate, breathing, eye movement, body temperature and fidgeting.


Definitely an interesting notion, but would implementing this breakthrough technology as a security method invade an individual’s privacy, thus encroach upon their civil liberties? Although many of the signs this technology scans could easily be viewed and monitored by a trained security guard, measuring someone’s body temperature, heart rate and “fidgeting factor” seems to go a bit overboard. As a society, we consider the privacy of medical records and take the protection of that privacy very seriously. Does this type of scanning not infringe upon that which we have worked so hard to keep confidential?

Another main concern of many skeptics is how accurate this technology can be, and if it would replace or merely supplement current methods used at security checkpoints. If this becomes the main method for detecting security risks, how long before individuals figure out a way to fool the system? Additionally, is the system advanced enough to detect the cause of an individual’s physiological fluctuations?  What if someone is ill and has a raised body temperature? Would a naturally fidgety person be repeatedly pulled aside while in line at the airport? And what about the occasional shifty-eyed man?

While this technology could prove beneficial if fine-tuned, I am weary to support the use of it at its current state. There are too many variables that affect a person’s physiology from moment to moment to generalize these signs and consider them potentially dangerous.

So, bio-scan or metal detector? For now, I’m fine with the metal detector.


~ by dparsonsmedia on October 9, 2009.

One Response to “FAST Security? Maybe We Should Slow Down…”

  1. Have you seen the film “I Am Legend” – sci-fi with Will Smith? A nasty virus is turning people into zombies and the authorities are determining who gets to go to safety and who gets left on zombie island (Manhattan) by using a technical device to scan their irises. Smith’s wife gets told after her scan that she’s infected and has to stay. Smith goes ballistic and because he’s a military officer after he demands that she be rescanned they do it and she passes the test, and they let her go through. In a world where we can’t even get the digital projector to work in the classroom, we can all find plenty to worry about in surmising that we will be depending more on machines for life-death decisions in the future.

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