back to article Sex crime 'lie detector' pilot could prompt wider use

Paedophiles and other sex offenders on probation will face compulsory "lie detector" tests from next month, The Register has learned. The academic who will run the tests of controversial polygraph technology on sex offenders for the government believes a successful trial will lead to its use in other crimes. From late April, …

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Joke

Evidence based policy making

We've heard of it.

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Flame

Why not just brand them?

Put a capital 'P' on their forehead, require a tracking bracelet, and require them to wear bright orange jump suits...

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It works on TV...

...so it must be true!

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Boffin

Re: Blakes7 Justice machine

The Justice machine seemed to me more like a computer analysis of evidence from both sides submitted in some standardised data format (XML?).

Though the 3 children Blake was accused of molesting had been said to have convincingly passed lie detector tests off-screen (so convincingly that the defense became suspicious of mind-tampering).

Better stop there. Might start giving politicians ideas!

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Joke

Ban the Wiggles & Barney

They are really training videos for pedos...

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Pirate

Polygraphs

Polygraphs are not reliable. The skills (or lack-there-of) of the interviewer are what produces results, or not. Sociopaths do not react 'normally' to the questions, and are able to "pass" such tests. Most serious baddies are sociopathic. Or they are lawyers & work in government.

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Coat

yay that man !!!

"Bollocks

By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 25th March 2009 13:06 GMT

Why doesn't the Government just f&"k off, I've had enough of their Stalinist crap in the name of 'Terrorism' and 'Protection for Children'

From a pissed off comrade who WILL get of his arse and vote at the next election!"

Right on... power to the people comrade !!!

the problem is, the great unwashed all believe the polygraphs work,,, coz Jezza K says so.

mines the one with the latest edition of newspeak in the pocket...

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Help!

And these guys are in charge of the economy?

We're boned.

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Anonymous Coward

Polygraphs are reliable

but only if you believe in them. In a recent study, women who were connected to what they thought was a polygraph averaged the same number of partners shagged, as men said they had. Men's Number of women shagged count was constant, whereas women's number went up and down, depending on what they thought was the answer that would win them the most money/kudos etc.

Although, in my experience women lie about just about everything else as well. This is an evolutionary necessity, because they pretty much can't do anything, and have to get by, by giving the impression that they're as little of a drain as they can.

So we should put them on rape accusers first, such as this lawyer.

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Reliability

If you don't try to cheat the polygraph it can be around 95-97% accurate. Notice the flaw in what I just said. Do a polygraph for the polygraph perhaps?

But it's true, if you co-operate with the test, even if you're highly stressed, as long as the person operating the polygraph is experienced you'll get an accurate set of results.

The two main problems are, as far as I can see, as follows.

1/Most obvious, how do you know if the person is co-operating or has learned from any number of reliable resources how to do beat the test?

2/What if the person has been convinced he committed a crime when in reality he did nothing wrong? Shock, horror, sometimes the police make up laws.

There are a number of ways you can convince someone they've committed a crime, the police use these methods in interrogations - usually to get the suspect to admit to real crimes they've committed, but not always. The mentally ill are particularly easy prey in this regard.

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Happy

Re "Only useful as paperweigths"

My wife is a biofeedback therapist, and what you've described is using biofeedback to learn to control what most people (including polygraphers) believe to be completely automatic responses. Imagine the fun you could have by presenting them with various combinations of responses:

Question 1- Heart rate up, perspiration down, breaths down (100)

Question 2- Heart rate down, perspiration up, breaths down (010)

... etc.

Might as well bring back trial by combat.

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Stop

How could it possibly fail?

"the government believes a successful trial will lead to its use in other crimes."

Yeah I bet they do... Thats the key to the whole PR game. This isn't just about sex offenders. Its that dream of getting another crime fighting tool to use in all crimes. Sounds great and oh what a noble goal, the end of all crime. We can finally deal with all forms of criminals. Sounds oh so great.

Problem 1: Abuse of position of power

The people in power can write new laws and change old laws to suit their own goals (as demonstrated by infamous section 152). Therefore the people in power can abuse their position of power to introduce new groups of criminals (like protesting against the government anywhere near them) and then they can abuse technology like this to seek out and punish decent to NuLabour doctrine. (Which is exactly the same problem we will have with other technologies they can abuse like Phorm and other ISP data interception and profiling).

Problem 2: A growing ever more powerful tool

While older style polygraph technology gave poor results, work in neuroscience and psychology is progressing rapidly. We are getting ever better at combining conventional polygraph technology with various forms of brain scanning. This means this kind of technology is going to become an ever more power tool. Therefore the potential for abusing that power becomes ever more dangerous over time.

Problem 3: Technologically ignorant political types failing to foresee and legislate effectively.

Typically political types are for the most part ignorant of how technology is evolving and so they will write legislation which is ignorant of just how far this technology can be abused.

Problem 4: Spreading usage

Which crimes do we use this on. Did you over fill your bin again? ... Have you or any of your family ever considered protesting against NuLabour ... Is 2 + 2 = 5

Problem 5: Evolution of the technology.

So how long before people have road side hand held lie detecting scanners? ... Certainly not yet but its not impossible to imagine such technology becoming the new breathalyser for the 21st century. Just how far and how wide spread will this technology become. Could we one day have metal detector style arches which are attempting to scan peoples brains, as we walk through them attempting to find clues as to their thinking. Careful, don't want to show fear getting on a plane or a train, after all they could deprive you of your freedom while they interrogate you.

Problem 6: Pre-crime

How long before they use this kind of ever improving technology to profile people to see if they are likely to ever break any law. Would you ever consider opposing NuLabour? ... After all, they already have ONSET (a Home Office system seeking to predict future offenders)!

Ah but any logical discussion is irrelevant to the self-righteous in power. Politics only sells emotional solutions, anything more requires too much discussion. They don't want to discuss it. They have already made up their mind. It must be a totally good thing and they are going to push ahead with it, regardless of what anyone says or argues against it. After all, anyone objecting must be a criminal, as emotionally speaking, how could anyone object to a new way to stop all crime. Typical NuLabour doctrine. Accept the word of NuLabour. Trust us, we are NuLabour. We want you acquiescence, we are good, we are NuLabour ... Yeah right. We are ruled by self-righteous, arrogant, close minded plutocrat's with fear and contempt at the vast majority of their powerless people. Exactly the kind of people in power, I do not trust with ever more powerful ways to gain ever more power over everyone.

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$cientology

Isn't this the same technology that the $cientologist$ use to produce their "Clears"? You know, the ones that can levitate, read minds, grow new teeth and other miraculous stuff according to L Ron. Or does it just produce short-arsed bad actors with enormous egos? Anyhoo, I'm sure their "E-meters" just measure skin conductivity which is predicated by the amount of sweat on the skin. Perhaps the guvment's intention is to turn us all into "Clears" - how exciting the future will be - not.

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A boost for Scientology?

Maybe the gubmint could contract out the testing to the Scientology org. Their E-meter and auditing for engrams seems to be not so very different and they have been using this sort of technique for decades.

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Pirate

The prats...

know they would not get laws like this through parliment. their own back-benchers would revolt against it, so they use a statutory instrument yet again.

How long before we get a statutory instrument to cancel general elections so they can save us from our selves?

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Boffin

Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames the Soviet mole in the CIA passed two polygraph tests while spying for the other side.

The CIA eventually had to call in the FBI who used real police work to quickly identify Ames as their chief suspect.

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Bloody hell

This is a total non-starter. A good actor can lie through their teeth and pass a polygraph test. A pathologically nervous subject can tell the truth and fail one.

It's security theatre, plain and simple.

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Yeah, but, No, but ...

Regardless as to whether polygraphs are reliable ...

I belong to an organisation which has repeatedly asked government bodies to allow the use of polygraph testing for those ACCUSED of sexual offences and to make that information available to courts.

Government has firmly resisted this all along.

I wonder why!

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Paris Hilton

double whoa!

"Whoa there buddy. polygraph are not admissible in a court of law in the US. The only people that can be forced to take a poly are CIA, NSA ,FBI, or any one else whose job deals with national security. Then the poly is used for pre-employment questioning, and then for internal investigations to see weather you want to fire the guy or proceed with criminal charges ."

Hello, AC@12.54 here. Actually, old chap, I didn't say they were admissible in court in the US - I said they were legal to use (which is not the case in other jurisdictions, as I understand it).

Also, I am afraid you are not correct when you say that only national security-related employees may be tested. In fact, some private employees can be polygraphed in pre-employment screening (security, drugs), and almost everyone else can be polygraphed in the event of economic loss. I have no idea what happens for state and federal employees.

If you're interested in this subject, you should get acquainted with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 ( http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/eppa.htm ). (There are some state law differences to the federal EPPA law, but the basic regulatory framework is the same). This is a document with which I would have had a much closer relationship in a previous life as an investigator in the US ... if my employer had had any faith in or need for polygraphs in the first place...

Mine's the cloak with the dagger hidden in the lining.

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Joke

AC@12:29

"What's next, gutting goats and reading their entrails to find the location of Bin Laden?"

This man is clearly in possession of classified documents.

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Beaten one

Already beaten one. Though not for stuff like that, and you'd hope that the police would use more advanced tests than the basic one I got hooked up to.

There was a story I heard a while back that was about as accurate as the Polygraph- the police put a metal colander on the suspect's head with wires going from it to a box with a photocopier in it. And a sheet saying "He's Lying" in the flatbed scanner part of it. If they thought you were lying they'd hit the copy button (marked as "check answer") and the 'lie detector' would tell the police that the subject was lying to them.

And anyone else see them using the Bladerunner quote on nerds suspected of crimes? I mean they'll know the quote so they'll get excited, meaning that they'll fail the test. And as they have a connection to the Internet anyway that means they're probably looking at porn so are morally reprehensible.

Or shoot the examiner when asked about their mothers.

And the quote (without interruptions) is:

Holden: You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and you see a tortoise. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

Leon: [angry at the suggestion] What do you mean, I'm not helping?

Holden: I mean you're not helping! Why is that, Leon?

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Who is lying/telling the truth

As Roman Jackobson would say, who exactly is lying or telling the truth? The subject of the utterance (the grammatical I), or the subject making the utterance?

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Wrong....

<<Paedophiles and other sex offenders on probation will face compulsory "lie detector" tests from next month, The Register has learned.>>

Wrong... paedophiles will not face such tests because the word means "attracted to children"....

Most pedophiles are not involved with the criminal justice system.

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@MinionZero, @Gareth Lowe

@MinionZero,

"This isn't just about sex offenders. Its that dream of getting another crime fighting tool to use in all crime"

Now that sounds more like it. I wonder if they realise they have chosen the criminal group most able to fool this nonsense.

@Gareth Lowe

"Aldrich Ames the Soviet mole in the CIA passed two polygraph tests while spying for the other side"

Yes the fact that he fooled the CIA, an organisation which likes it and presumably hire top quality operators to run it, does suggest it can be fooled.

Of course the sort of people who can fool it are likely to have atypical personalities which don't react in the same was as *normal* people. Like being sexually aroused by children for example. Or who can practice a mild form of self hypnosis. "I believed every word I said at the time I was saying it," as one politician put it.

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