Euro project to arrest us for what they think we will do
Wed, 23 Sep 2009 16:28 EDT
Radical Think Tank Open Europe has this week exposed a study by the EU that could lead to the creation of a massive cross-Europe database, amassing vast amounts of personal data on every single citizen in the EU.
The scope of this project also reveals a growing governmental preference for systems capable of locking people up not for what they have done, but for what they might do.
Open Europe (OE) researcher, Stephen Booth, has been reviewing projects currently in receipt of EU funding. Last week he identified one of these – Project INDECT – as having potentially far-reaching effects for anyone living or working in Europe. The main objectives of this project, according to its own website, are:
To develop a platform for: the registration and exchange of operational data, acquisition of multimedia content, intelligent processing of all information and automatic detection of threats and recognition of abnormal behaviour or violence, to develop the prototype of an integrated, network-centric system supporting the operational activities of police officers.
In addition, it aims “to develop a set of techniques supporting surveillance of internet resources, analysis of the acquired information, and detection of criminal activities and threats.”
There are two controversial aspects to this research. First is the extent of data collection implied by the project scope. Second, and perhaps far more worrying, is the proposition that law enforcement agencies, in possession of sufficient data, will in future be able to model potentially criminal and anti-social behaviour and therefore focus on individuals before crimes are committed.
In this, it echoes another EU-sponsored piece of research – ADABTS – which is all about Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in crowded Spaces. According to the ADABTS prospectus, it “aims to develop models for abnormal and threat behaviours and algorithms for automatic detection of such behaviours as well as deviations from normal behaviour in surveillance data.”
The INDECT project is co-ordinated by Polish academic Professor Andrzej Dziech. Participants include several institutions from Poland – which until recently had its own issues with over-arching state surveillance – as well as the Northern Ireland Police Service.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described this approach as a “sinister step” for any country, but “positively chilling” on a European scale.
Stephen Booth added: “The problem with the EU funding these types of projects is the lack of accountability. Citizens are left completely in the dark as to who has approved them and there is no way to ensure that civil liberties are being duly respected.