Seek ‘biosignature’ spying ability to ‘identify, locate specific individuals’
by Steve Peacock
The federal government doesn’t just want the ability to track down your car; it wants to be able to track down your body as well.
Just as details are emerging about a controversial, nationwide vehicle-surveillance database, WND has learned the federal government is planning an even more invasive spy program using “physiological signatures” to track down individuals.
The goal of this research is to detect – as well as analyze and categorize – unique traits the government can exploit to “identify, locate and track specific individuals or groups of people.”
According to the program’s statement of objectives, “The scope of human-centered [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR] research spans the complete range of human performance starting at the individual molecular, cellular, genomic level.”
Documents WND located through routine database research reveal the ability to follow people by detecting “certain characteristics of operational interest” is designed for U.S. military and intelligence-gathering superiority.
It remains unknown when such capabilities might transition to the realm of domestic counterterrorism or law enforcement operations; however, the feds – through the Air Force Research Lab, or AFRL – are recruiting private-sector assistance in order to make this “biosignature” spying a reality.
Existing ISR systems are “ideal for identifying and tracking entities such as aircraft and vehicles, but are less capable of identifying and tracking the human,” the lab says in a planning document known as a Broad Agency Announcement, or BAA.
The Human-Centered ISR Leveraged Science & Technology Program will seek to develop, with outside help, technologies that the government can use “to identify, locate and track humans of interest within the operational environment,” according to solicitation No. BAA-HPW-RHX-2014-0001.
Research specific to fusing and analyzing sensor data has undergone consistent growth, but such efforts have been “system-centric” and fail to “adequately address the human element.”
This new research scheme seeks to strengthen the ability of intelligence analysts by placing the human component at the forefront of their efforts.
AFRL’s research could have implications for a variety of domains, such as air, space and cyberspace, it says. The program’s outcome also will broadly apply to other U.S. Department of Defense organizations and the intelligence community.
A second component of the AFRL initiative is the Human Trust and Interaction Program, which will conduct research into human-to-human and human-to-machine interactions.
This program segment entails several sub-areas, including Trust and Suspicion, which will focus on “the recognition of suspicious activities in the cyberspace realm.”
This segment will examine open-source data such as social media. It also will continue to leverage “more traditional intelligence sources.”
AFRL says it anticipates awarding three or four initial contracts for the overall initiative, which has an estimated program value of about $50 million.
The goal of this and other AFLR programs typically start out as largely theoretical, similar to the approach taken by the more widely known Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which created ARPANET, the defense-system predecessor to the Internet.
The Department of Homeland Security, on the other hand, merely has to solicit bids from industry for a National License Plate Recognition, or NLPR, database system.
While DHS is soliciting this service specifically for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, functions, the breadth of this NLPR service encompasses the gathering of transportation-movement data from major metropolitan areas nationwide.
This database, which would be fed with information gleaned from multiple sources, would “track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system,” according to the program solicitation.
The vehicle tracking-data then would be “uploaded to share with law enforcement.”
The database will be compatible with smart phone technology, enabling law enforcement offices to download thousands of listings – as well as close-up photos – of vehicle license plates.
Once DHS secures this service, the contractor must retain and make available data from previous months, as well as update the system with “new and unique” data monthly.
DHS anticipates awarding a one-year contract with four one-year options by May 14. It did not disclose the estimated cost.