Published in AI

US Customs and Border Protection buy AI mind reading software

by on25 August 2023

Reads your email to detect "sentiment and emotion"

Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security, has bought millions of dollars worth of software from a company that uses artificial intelligence to detect "sentiment and emotion" in online posts.

According to a cache of documents obtained by 404 Media the technology analyses open source information related to inbound and outbound travelers who the agency believes may threaten public safety, national security, or lawful trade and travel.

In this case, the specific company called Fivecast also offers "AI-enabled" object recognition in images and video, and detection of "risk terms and phrases" across multiple languages.

Marketing materials promote the software's ability to provide targeted data collection from big social platforms like Facebook and Reddit, but also specifically names smaller communities like 4chan, 8kun, and Gab.

Fivecast claims the software was able to track social media posts and related Persons-of-Interest starting with just "basic bio details" from a New York Times Magazine article about members of the far-right paramilitary Boogaloo movement.

404 Media also obtained leaked audio of a Fivecast employee explaining how the tool could be used against trafficking networks or propaganda operations. The news signals CBP's continued use of artificial intelligence in its monitoring of travelers and targets, which can include US citizens.

This shows that CBP has deployed multiple AI-powered systems, and provides insight into what exactly these tools claim to be capable of while raising questions about their accuracy and utility.

Needless to say there are some people who are not happy about this.

Last modified on 25 August 2023
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