March 27, 2010

UK: Lie detection critic silenced by lawsuit

Hearing voices lately? If not, that could be because corporate interests are using the legal system to keep critical voices from speaking out about controversial new tools in our field, according to European scholars.

A Swedish phonetics professor says when he challenged the premises underlying an Israeli voice risk analysis (VRA) lie detection system that the British government has spent 2.4 million pounds pilot testing, the manufacturer threatened his publisher into withdrawing a manuscript from press. The government wants to employ voice stress analysis to detect benefits fraud; here in the United States, police frequently use similar technologies in criminal interrogations.

Francisco Lacerda, the Stockholm University professor, said the censorship "showed how English law was damaging science abroad as well as in the UK," according to an article in the Times of London.

Responding to a series of similar high-profile defamation actions against scientists, a group called the Libel Reform Coalition is campaigning for changes in Britain's law. A Coalition petition, signed by about 44,000 people when I last checked, is online HERE; I encourage you to check out the group's website and sign the petition.

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