3 European Countries are Adding Lie Detector Tests at the Border

iBorderCtrl is a new lie detector project being tested in European airports at immigration checkpoints in Hungary, Latvia and Greece. They all border countries outside the EU.

The project will “analyze travelers’ micro-expressions to gauge whether they may be lying.”

Passengers entering from outside the EU will be asked to consent to the process and then asked questions “by a virtual border guard avatar.” A computer will decide whether it thinks the passenger is lying, and if so the tone of voice of the electronic border official should get “more skeptical.”

They might as well hire Wonder Woman, have her tie up passengers with her golden lariat, and force them to tell the truth.

  • Polygraphing is a subjective pseudoscience that relies on the beliefs of the questioner. Here they replace it with a computer, which means it relies on the rules of its programmer. The US Supreme Court has written that there is “simply no consensus that polygraph evidence is reliable” and of course it generates many false positives.

  • It measures deviations in physical states, not lies — such as nervousness, fear, and confusion — precisely the things many people experience at border crossings.

  • Terrorists can be trained in countermeasures. You’re only going to catch people who don’t know what they’re doing, in other words lie detectors only detect the lies of the people you’re least concerned with lying.

  • The best advice for taking a lie detector test is to get a good night’s sleep and show up rested and relaxed. If this technique spreads then a polygraph may just help identify who flew business class.

People who are used to lying do well on polygraphs. People from oppressive regimes do especially well, since they compartmentalize their public and private personas. This isn’t going to catch who they think it’s going to catch.

Similarly US airport security has uses human behavior detection even though the government cedes the program has no scientific basis whatsoever.

Indeed the ‘checklist’ they use considers criticism of the TSA to be a sign you’re a terrorist.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @ Gene – what does the article have to do with Trump at all?….You people are hysterical…

    Please keep it to the point, or at least travel related.

  2. @silentmajority (which is an ironic and telling name in itself…oh yes, according to liar sarah huckster your guy won by a vast majority – SAD.. maybe she should be a test subject to see how well this equipment really works.)

    Gene’s comment is to the point and travel related (although it does take some basic level of cognitive capacity to understand it – not something trump supporters are known to excel at), because as soon as trump hears about this on fox/fix news he will want to install the same detector in the US (but of course only for flights from Africa and Latin America, and maybe Canada – no need for allies like Russia…).

  3. Ha! I vacation on the Greek islands every couple of years. This is going to get interesting!

    So, basically, I’m going to get stuck in long customs lines with the rest of the honest population while those who are proficient in countermeasures (e.g., terrorists, foreign intel officers and military personnel, lawyers (sorry), business and first class passengers, etc.) are going to breeze through.

    I hope our economic aid to the countries (in FY2016 over $11M, $21M, and $8M respectively) hasn’t gone for BS technology like this. Doesn’t matter what the U.S. Supreme Court says. When will other nations realize the science does not support this cr@p.

    This is not an “emerging technology” for counterterrorism efforts! I’d rather vacation with Wonder Woman!

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