Next stop, Minority Report


The latest surveillance security technology in development in the US threatens to become yet another expensive encroachment upon our civil liberties.

Future Attributable Screening Technology (FAST), which is being developed by the US army, uses surveillance cameras with advanced software to pre-empt crimes taking place. This is done by cameras recognising certain traits or signals which may indicate criminal activity. For example, it may be able to identify and follow people who leave objects in public places, or identify facial micro-expressions associated with people under stress or who are acting hostile.

The arguments for this technology are that it would be more efficient and reliable as a security guard watching a screen may not be able to effectively monitor every single person’s actions within a crowded public place.

But at the same time, the potential threat this poses to our right to privacy is worrying. I'm not sure I want to live in a world where we are individually targeted, tracked and recorded purely for acting ‘suspiciously’.

It would be even more problematic if – as seems inevitable – data from these CCTV images was collated and stored on a database. This could result in past offenders being traced and tracked continuously by cameras without having actually broken the law.

This technology may have a place within military organizations, but once 'domesticated' it is only likely to fuel further the surveillance society that we increasingly live in.