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    The Hill: New security system uses Wii technology and worries GOP

    The Hill reports on questions by members of Congress about the privacy implications of the “Future Attribute Screening Technology“ (FAST), which I discussed last year, as well as the Department of Homeland Security’s use of the Nintendo Wii gaming system.

    Several Republican lawmakers are worried about the privacy issues of a screening technology being developed by the government that combines a video game balancing device with thermal, ocular, respiratory, and cardiac monitors. […]

    The $20 million trial program called Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) combines an eye-tracking device that gauges abnormal pupil sizes; a laser radar that reads the person’s heart and respiration rate; and a thermal camera that can pick up changes in skin’s temperature, all while the person stands on a Nintendo Wii Fit balance board.

    The data collected during such a screening is fed into an algorithm, which creates an analysis for security personnel to examine. The Wii Fit balance board first appealed to the scientists developing the technology because it is an off-the-shelf product that is easily adaptable to a security setting.

    Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he had “real concerns” that the program’s threats to personal privacy would outweigh possible security benefits. “But DHS said it has done everything to try to ensure that personal privacy rights are respected, and that the FAST technology is gender and ethnicity neutral in analyzing the physiological indicators,” the Hill reports.

    The DHS Privacy Office released a Privacy Impact Assessment (pdf) on FAST last year, stating:

    Before FAST is transitioned from a research effort to pilot or full deployment in operational environments, the operational component acquiring the technology, with support from S&T, will address the following privacy issues: (1) the legal assessment at Federal, State, and local levels regarding collecting each type of data from each sensor (and combinations of sensors) in an operational setting versus in a research setting with volunteer participants who have consented to the collection; (2) redress options for individuals being screened using the FAST technologies; and (3) data retention limits related to the data collected through FAST technologies.

    It would be nice to know if these three privacy issues have been addressed and how.

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