April 7 2023, 10:20 a.m.
A UTAH-BASED OUTFIT overseen by a former CIA consultant has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying intelligence and defense agencies, including the CIA and DHS, to adopt its automated lie detection technology, public lobbying disclosures reviewed by The Intercept show. Converus, Inc., boasts on its website that its technology has already been used for job screenings at American law enforcement agencies, corporate compliance and loss prevention in Latin America, and document verification in Ukraine. The company’s management team includes chief scientist John Kircher, a former consultant for the CIA and Department of Defense; Todd Mickelson, former director of product management at Ancestry.com; and Russ Warner, former CEO of the content moderation firm ContentWatch.
Warner told The Intercept that lobbying efforts have focused on changing federal regulations to allow the use of technologies other than the polygraph for lie detection. “The Department of Defense National Center of Credibility Assessment (NCCA) is in charge of oversight of validation and pilot projects throughout the U.S. government of new deception detection technologies,” Warner wrote in an email. “DoD Directive 5210.91 and ODNI Security Agent Directive 2 currently prohibit the use of any credibility assessment solution other than polygraph. For this reason, we have contacted government agencies to consider the use of EyeDetect and other new technologies.”
After finding success in corporate applications and sheriff’s offices, Converus has set its sights on large federal agencies that could apply its EyeDetect technology to a host of uses, including employee clearance screenings and border security. Unlike a polygraph, a device which relies on an operator asking questions and measuring physiological responses like heart rate and perspiration, Converus’s technology measures “cognitive load” with an algorithm that processes eye movement.