By Aaron Klein
Traveling through the T. F. Green Airport of Providence, Rhode Island?
If so, the Department of Homeland Security may be “inadvertently” filming video of you as part of a project to sniff out behavioral indicators of “malicious intent.”
In other words, the DHS wants to use video images of passengers to predict crimes.
On Tuesday, the DHS quietly released online a “privacy impact assessment” that provides the legal justification for an ongoing experiment it is calling “Data Collection for the Centralized Hostile Intent Project.”
The 14-page document, reviewed in full by KleinOnline, reveals the DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate will conduct an exercise at the Providence airport at an undisclosed date.
The DHS is planning to collect video images at designated areas throughout the airport, including at TSA security checkpoints, ticket counters, baggage claim and the airport entrance. No audio will be recorded at any time, states the document.
The stated goal is to evaluate “whether the behavioral indicators used to screen for passengers with hostile intent can be reliably observed by BDOs (Behavior Detection Officers) via live video images as opposed to in person.”
The document states the video data acquisition will entail collecting and even storing “Personally Identifiable Information in the form of video images that include the face and body of trained actors and members of the traveling public.”
The experiment, the paper makes clear, is focused on video collection of trained actors at designated airport areas. However, it concedes that the agency “may incidentally collect Personally Identifiable Information from members of the traveling public and airport personnel who may be near them.”
The DHS paper says it will delete and not store any video of passengers “inadvertently” collected while filming the trained actors.
Besides testing to see if DHS agents can detect “hostile intent” from video images as opposed to in-person observation, the videos will also used to see if computers can successfully be integrated for automated hostile intent detection and tracking. DHS is developing algorithms for what it calls “person and object detection and tracking.”
‘Right to record’
The DHS contends it has the legal right to record passengers, citing existing U.S. law dictating the mission of the TSA is to protect U.S. transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
Continues the paper: “In order to execute this mission, TSA employs a multifaceted approach to passenger and airport security. The Behavior Detection and Analysis (BDA) program is among TSA’s many layers of security.”
Project Hostile Intent, initially established in 2008, is an ongoing effort of the DHS to detect behavioral clues indicating an individual’s intent to deceive, do harm or commit a crime.
Some private firms also have been hard at work generating algorithms that can be used to predict future behavior.
In February 2013, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Massachusetts-based multinational corporation Raytheon – the world’s fifth largest defense contractor – had developed a “Google for Spies” operation that can predict future behavior.
Herald reporter Ryan Gallagher wrote that Raytheon had “secretly developed software capable of tracking people’s movements and predicting future behavior by mining data from social networking websites” like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.
The software is called Rapid Information Overlay Technology, or RIOT.
Raytheon told the Herald it has not sold RIOT to any clients but admitted that in 2010 it had shared the program’s software technology with the U.S. government as part of a “joint research and development effort … to help build a national security system capable of analyzing “trillions of entities” from cyberspace.
With additional research by Brenda J. Elliott.