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, …

COMMENTS

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Trial by polygraph?

    Whats next, gutting goats and reading their entrails to find the location of Bin Laden?

    I'm a citizen, get me out of here!

  2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    science

    Why don't you just put your suspect on one side of a balance and a goose on the other? Or toss dice? The evidentiary value would be about the same, and think how much money you'd save.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Polygraphs are nowhere near reliable

    so I fail to see the benefit of this.

    What are they going to do about it if they say you're lying and you say you aren't?

    If the only "evidence" is the polygraph, they have no evidence at all.

  4. Steven
    Black Helicopters

    Bladerunner time?

    "A turtle is lying on its back in the desert. Do you right the turtle?"

    (Yes, it's horribly misquoted, but it I hear the word retirement in any of these press releases soon, I'm getting a grubby overcoat and a unicorn....)

  5. Francis Fish
    Unhappy

    Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?

    McCarthite techno solution to not funding things properly. People with certain kinds of serious personality disorder can get past these with no problem, and a lot of them are probably the people you'll be questioning.

    Waste of time.

  6. John

    Unreliable ?

    I was under the impression the polygraph was pretty darned unreliable?

    Or am I mistaken ?

  7. Dave Silver badge

    Jargon

    "We need to not outrun the evidence"

    What does that actually mean? Crims need to make sure that they can run faster than their victims?

    Sounds suspiciously like normal Gov decision making: "We need to be able to ignore all relevant evidance"

  8. Mark
    Thumb Down

    Erm...

    Isn't it a well known fact that these machines can give no absolutes, only a possible indication if the person is lying...

    By all accounts if you clench you arse while answering the control questions they are unable to get an accurate reading on the rest of the questions. Also if you are too shaken and nervous you will fail every question even though you are not lying....

    If they start depending on this technology to find out who has perpetrated crime prepare for millions of miscarriages of justice, and lots of people let out to carry on with thier lavish criminal lifestyles with no comeback.....

  9. John

    apparenlty I recall right..

    "There is little scientific evidence to support the reliability of polygraphs.[16][17] Despite claims of 90% - 95% reliability, critics charge that rather than a "test", the method amounts to an inherently unstandardizable interrogation technique whose accuracy cannot be established. A 1997 survey of 421 psychologists estimated the test's average accuracy at about 61%, a little better than chance."

    Taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygraph

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    actually

    This is not a terribly good idea: if polygraphs work at all (which is a serious question in itself), they work best on people who are able to distinguish truth from lies, and who feel guilty or at least uncomfortable about lying. Paedophiles often don't fit into those categories.

    Polygraphs are rubbish. They're legal to use in the US but even private security firms deploy them incredibly rarely because they're so discredited. There was a very good article on them, and recent "innovations" in the New Yorker in 2007: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/07/02/070702fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=all

    This is, of course, completely typical of the government's approach: dredging up technology with a dodgy track record and whose application poses significant liberties questions, then using an undesirable group as guinea pigs (who's going to lose political points by being made to look as if they're "standing up for paedos"?) in a worthless trial before rolling it out to the wider population...

  11. John Imrie
    Black Helicopters

    Polygraph tests

    And how to beet them.

    A polygraph test can not tell if you are lying. It shows how much you are sweating and how fast your heart is beating and, passably, several other factors.

    This is compared against a base line of responses from a set of 'neutral' questions given at the start of the test.

    So to beet the polygraph test all you have to do is make sure that your responses to the neutral questions match those of the questions the operator wants you to answer.

    The easiest way of doing this is to put something small and sharp in your shoe and press down on it when answering the 'neutral' questions. Then complain about being nervous and ask if this will affect the test.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    detect lies?

    but surely a polygraph is purely subterfuge to get people to admit their guilt - it has no ability to detect lies whatsoever - it may still work on people who dont understand this of course

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, Right!

    "Grubin added that given the vulnerability of polygraphs to faking, no decisions about the management of recently-released sex offenders would be made solely on the basis of their results."

    Ha. Given the blind faith in technology these days that won't last long before being "forgotten".

  14. ceedee
    Stop

    Participate or else!

    "Grubin added that given the vulnerability of polygraphs to faking, no decisions about the management of recently-released sex offenders would be made solely on the basis of their results."

    But why should offenders, who've already been judged safe to release, have their licence revoked (meaning they get returned to prison) if they refuse to participate in the trial?

  15. Cameron Colley

    Why don't they just read their fucking tea leaves while they're at it?

    Since every scientific study I've seen seems to suggest that polygraphs are about as useful as torture for extracting the truth (read "not very").

    Why don't the government just hire remote viewers to follow the "peado's" about?

    Fucking morons.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh...

    This, dispite there not being a shread of evidence that polygraphs represent a reliable test.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Blake's 7

    This polygraph stuff always reminds me of the "justice machine" in Blake's 7.

  18. Lottie
    Boffin

    Hmmmm How will this work then?

    "so Mr. P. Phile, have you had contact with children recently?"

    Paedophile thinks about certain type of "contact with children" and heart rate, sweat production etc all increase and register false positive?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bollocks

    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!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The right result guaranteed

    If the lie detector says true then thats a tick - unless there is long term follow up to check if the person was really telling the truth about that specific question, which I'd guess as v unlikely.

    If the lie detector says lie then thats a tick - unless the person being tested can prove they're telling the truth, and the chances of being able to do that will depend on the kind of questions asked, so likely to be minimal.

    If the person refuses to take the test then thats a tick as they're obviously guilty.

    Looks like it could be time to buy shares in lie detector manufacturers.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wacki jacqui et al

    Lets see it used on wacki and her lying bast*rd colleagues/mates first.

  22. Andy

    A much more reliable method

    Just check if they weigh the same as a duck.

    (Well, someone had to say it...)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    QI Episode 3

    I reckon, the batty old cow watched QI, and saw the discussion about "the fruit machine" (a machine to determine homosexuality, which was used to sack civil servants who were claimed to be gay in order to 'prevent them being blackmailed' ....right.. to prevent them being blackmailed...).

    Anyway I reckon Jacqui saw that, as usual, she determines laws based on yesterdays news and TV, then decided that they'd have polygraph tests, then made this new rule based on a comedy program.

    Blunkett is long gone, he can hardly be blamed. Quite incredible that Brown doesn't get a grip on her.

  24. David Jewson
    Unhappy

    Minister engages mouth before .........

    Why don't the government ever think these things through first?

    All that will happen is that paedophiles intending to offend again will move from these areas, probably to Brighton or Torquay where hoards of young children on holiday will be easy prey for their perversions.

    More of my taxes wasted on yet another government harebrained scheme. Dave.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Only useful as paperweigths

    A polygraph is only useful when used as a paper weight. As other commentards (TM) have noted here they are unreliable and it is the INTERPRETATION of the results against the question asked at that time which is the problem.

    A polygraph (as has been said) measures a set of biometrics. When you learn to control one or two of the more gross metrics _YOU_ can control the results.

    Many years ago, during boring days crossing the pond on one of Liz & Phil's Grey Funnel Liners (the big one with the flat roof) a group of bored young sailors (me included) tried duplicating an experiemnt that one of us had read about. The equipement was simple, some porn, some technical manuals and a heart rate monitor. The the victim was attached to the monitor and told a heart rate to achieve. He was shown porn when his heart rate was going towards, or at, the required rate. And Manuals when the rate was going away from the desire rate. 6 or 8 of used learned the trick in two days. I had fun later in hospital (following an MI) when I asked the doc what heart rate he wanted and then giving it to him. :)

    This skill was learned with little time and little resources, just to fill in some empty time. Someone with more motivation, and much better technology that we had, could easily learn to control heart and breathing rates and I doubt that sweating would be much more difficult. Then that person would really control the machine.

    And _HE_ wouldn't be a kiddie fiddler, the polygraph said so.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: wacki jacqui et al

    You think that such consummate liars will be phased by a lie detector test?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Psychological

    Are these the same "US authorities" that admit the thing's only any good against gullible fools?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Polygraph evidence inadmissible in court

    Polygraphs are unreliable and hence inadmissible in court. If anyone receives any pseudo punishment as a result of a polygraph test, they should challenge it in court.

    UK Gilt Auction failed, if you don't understand how serious that is, it's the precursor to currency collapse. It means the government can no longer lend from real lenders and will have to lend from the Bank of England.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c67daf8e-14bb-11de-8cd1-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

    You are now in a spiral, he has to borrow, but the only lender is the BOE, which in turn prints currency to cover it, which drives the pound down, which makes foreign government unwilling to lend, so future borrowing has to come from the BOE.....

    I say again, the EU should not bail out the UK, look at stuff like this Polygraph nonsense, look at the barring of MPs from the UK, look at the database crap. In no sense should this government be helped, Brown was not elected and it would be undemocratic to bail him out when British people want rid of him.

    You don't gain any favours by bailing out a leader that the country wants rid of.

  29. Philip Kroker
    Unhappy

    What next Tarot cards?

    I remember reading an interview some time ago that was conducted with the guy who invented the polygraph, later in life. He said the the device did not work, he was ashamed he had made it and that he was trying to have it removed from the judiciary process. He also said that it was unlikely that it would be given up because the beurocracy was addicted to technology and silver bullet fixes and they would look like complete asses if they admitted it was unreliable (Imagine all the criminals they'd have to let go).

  30. Kevin

    Televised screenings

    The Jeremy Kyle fans would love it...

  31. John Smith Gold badge
    Joke

    Some people might have trouble with this.

    "I just need to establish a baseline of your responses"

    "Fine."

    "Your job title is Home Secretary?"

    "Yes"

    "Your family name is Smith?"

    "Yes"

    "Please turn over the piece of paper in front of you. Is that your home address?"

  32. Syd
    Boffin

    It doesn't need to be accurate...

    ... it just needs the testee (is that a word... the Firefox spell checker doesn't think so, but... ) to BELIEVE that it is accurate, so they think there is no point in lying.

    (Still sounds like a waste of money to me though, but...)

  33. Tony

    What about...

    ...bringing back phrenology? It is about as reliable.

  34. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    Sex questions

    Let me ask some question about your sex life.

    If you get nervous, we'll assume you lied to us.

    If you don't get nervous, you are a frikkin pervert, way too comfortable with your dirty mind!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    derr

    It has nothing to do with evidence, or proof, or justice, it's just another torch in the witch hunter generals army.

    "There my mob, the machine doth say he is a child buggerer, let us burn him!"

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah

    [Andy] Someone did, effectively. In comment #1.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are the odds?

    Home Office Polly - "Have you had any contact with children since your release?"

    Calculating Paedo - "Yes. Lots."

    Home Office Polly - "Er...the polygraph says he's lying."

    Calculating Paedo - "Ha, ha - now do you let me go or put me back inside? The Daily Tabloid will want to know."

    Home Office Polly - "We're bollixed! OK, sign this non-disclosure agreement and we'll give you ten grand."

    AC - wishing no possible association with either paedos or Home Office

  38. Luther Blissett

    Hyperreal evidence

    Polygraph evidence is no evidence at all in reality. But in hyperreality, due to its presence in so many films, the polygraph, simulacrum of evidence, is "in fact" the best evidence, as is well known, because it dispenses with all subjectivity, all emotions, all doubt, all humanity.

    The police, having had their hands slapped for profiling which justified fitting up saddos for various murders, have another toy to carry on the same game. But the police only "detect" anything in hyperreality. In reality, unless the criminals fall into the police's laps, the victim is often prosecuted to achieve the required strike rate. For in hyperreality, there are no crimes (at least, none that are the exclusive business of the police), only targets and detections.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Ahem...

    "Grubin added that given the vulnerability of polygraphs to faking, no decisions about the management of recently-released sex offenders would be made solely on the basis of their results."

    So why even bother, then?

    Mine's the alien with the probe in its pocket.

  40. kain preacher Silver badge

    @ac:12:54 GMT

    "They're legal to use in the US but even private security firms deploy them incredibly rarely because they're so discredited"

    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 .

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Creating problems in the first place...

    <daily mail answer>

    "Paedophiles and other sex offenders on probation" - why not just keep them in jail or have them executed? There problem solved...

    </daily mail answer>

    Polygraphs are passable if the person is able to control various stimulus whilst being questioned. Equally - someone with the correct levels of control can cause the system to fail on control questions. Whilst the above statement is harsh - perhaps tougher sentancing and better probation services when they are released would avoid the whole needing to control peoples lives like this. Also - I understand that things such as chemical castration etc. have had some effects on the most serious offenders.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ actually

    >'actually' wrote: This is, of course, completely typical of the government's approach: dredging up technology with a dodgy track record and whose application poses significant liberties questions, then using an undesirable group as guinea pigs (who's going to lose political points by being made to look as if they're "standing up for paedos"?) in a worthless trial before rolling it out to the wider population...<

    Spot-on. It's disgraceful. The Ministry of Justice ('MiniJust'..?) lives up to its chilling Orwellian moniker.

  43. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Flame

    Let's skip the horseshit

    Let's just turn the police into Judge Dredd clones and let them dispense justice as they feel fit *

    No worries about fuddy-duddy courtroom judges and limp-wristed liberal lawyers getting it wrong when we can rely on the plod on the beat to get it right. Seems reasonable as we all know not all coppers are bastards :-)

    * That also shuts up the debate about photography and all the other whinging about lost liberties. If you're dead you did something wrong. Tough shit, live ( or die ) with it. Other citizens take note.

  44. Ray
    Thumb Down

    ministry of justice.

    I was arguing against someone the other day who said we should 'just dump the paeds in the North Sea', and this latest proposal seems about as rational. I have no great love for them (!) but this latest rubbish HO initiative has nothing to do with the danger an individual represents to society or his or her rehabilitation.

    a: "The problem is there has been a lack of good data on its effectiveness"

    What he means is, there is a lack of data proving polygraphs to be effective. There's loads of data, it just proves the exact opposite of what he wants. Shame on you, prof. Sociology might have taught you stats but it is clear in this case that understanding doesn't necessarily follow from learning. That, or you know you're in the wrong.

    b: "Offenders who refuse to submit to the programme will violate their licence conditions and be sent back to prison"

    This sentence actually reads: "Submit to this ritual humiliation or we punish you some more, whether you did it or not."

    This latest scam is obviously the deformed brain-child of someone in Whitehall with no real ideas but quantifiable objectives to achieve for the minimum amount of cash, viz. more rehabilitated paeds, reduced prison crowding and a whole glut of Daily Mail sponsored votes in time for the next election.

    As long as the statistics go up or down by the right amount, you can have a winning career in government (and of course, if the stats don't go your way, you should have used a more ambiguous test).

    Mine's the one with the MiniLuv work request in the pocket.

  45. ElFatbob

    Re: Francis Fish

    Thanks - saved me the bother of typing that. Not forgetting that practiced liars can get around this technology and a large number of criminals are practiced liars.

  46. Trevor

    What happens when the liar gets through

    And what will happen when the screened fiddler gets away with lying for a while and then is discovered?

    Will the people running the test be held responsible for helping him continue his fiddling cause the test couldn't be wrong?

  47. Nigel
    Flame

    Bring back the ducking stool?

    In the middle ages they had the right idea, except that they used it on "witches" instead of paedos. Submerge them in water for a few minutes and see if the drowned. If they did, they were innocent, and God had accepted them into heaven, so everyone left was happy. If they didn't, it was time to build a large bonfire on which to send them to hell, after which everyone left was happy.

    If you weren't sure, that's satire. Well, 90% satire. The other 10% of my brain is asking me to come up with a better suggestion for what to do about convicted paedophiles living amongst our children. Well, what should we do about a paedo who fails a polygraph test? Or come to that, one who passes it?

  48. Bod
    Coat

    grubby overcoat and a unicorn

    "I'm getting a grubby overcoat and a unicorn"

    That's a sure way to get you on the sex offenders register ;)

    Mine's the grubby one with a paper unicorn in the pocket.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    so why bother?

    "The problem is there has been a lack of good data on its effectiveness,"

    given the vulnerability of polygraphs to faking...

    yes, that's quite the problem with them now, isn't it.

    anyway, the question is most properly phrased: When did you stop being a paedo? or

    when did you stop molesting sheep? or

    when did you realize you wanted to be wanked by the gubmint?

  50. This post has been deleted by its author

  51. John Smith Gold badge
    Joke

    Evidence based policy making

    We've heard of it.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  53. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Flame

    It works on TV...

    ...so it must be true!

  54. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    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!

  55. Pete
    Joke

    Ban the Wiggles & Barney

    They are really training videos for pedos...

  56. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    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...

  58. Watashi

    Help!

    And these guys are in charge of the economy?

    We're boned.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  60. Andy Bright
    Thumb Down

    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.

  61. ian
    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.

  62. MinionZero
    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.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    $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.

  64. David Pollard

    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.

  65. night troll
    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?

  66. Gareth Lowe
    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.

  67. A J Stiles
    Flame

    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.

  68. Ascylto

    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!

  69. Throatwobbler Mangrove
    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.

  70. John Smith Gold badge
    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.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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?

  72. Bruno de Florence

    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?

  73. pete

    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.

  74. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    @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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