How Orwellian

October 1, 2009 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Looks like the European Union is up to its old tricks with surveillance but this time it is basically creating a surveillance monster called Project Indect. Heard of it? Tens of thousands of Euros are being poured into a system that will detect threats and abnormal behaviour across Europe. EU: really I can save you the trouble. Just come on over and spend some time in the organisations I work in – you’ll find plenty of abnormal behaviour to study, don’t waste a heap of Euros!

The project has a web-site and I list what it says the objectives are – then I will tell you what it really will be up to:

  • 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, providing techniques and tools for observation of various mobile objects,
  • to develop a new type of search engine combining direct search of images and video based on watermarked contents, and the storage of metadata in the form of digital watermarks.

The main expected results of the INDECT project are:

  • to realise a trial installation of the monitoring and surveillance system in various points of city agglomeration and demonstration of the prototype of the system with 15 node stations,
  • implementation of a distributed computer system that is capable of acquisition, storage and effective sharing on demand of the data as well as intelligent processing,
  • construction of a family of prototypes of devices used for mobile object tracking,
  • construction of a search engine for fast detection of persons and documents based on watermarking technology and utilising comprehensive research on watermarking technology used for semantic search,
  • construction of agents assigned to continuous and automatic monitoring of public resources such as: web sites, discussion forums, UseNet groups, file servers, p2p networks as well as individual computer systems,
  • elaboration of Internet based intelligence gathering system, both active and passive, and demonstrating its efficiency in a measurable way.

Say what? You understand any of this twaffle? Let me translate for you:

  • secret squirrel geeky dudes will create agents to trawl and scurry around the internet, poking and snooping into web sites, discussion forums, social networks, individual computers, P2P networks;
  • it will also collect data and images from surveillance cams, CCTV
  • it will store all the juicy stuff it finds in a huge central database (probably lovingly nicknamed by the geeky types, Panopticon)
  • the juicy tidbits of information about you will be “behaviorally profiled”. Secret squirrel codes will be written to identify patterns of “abnormal behaviour” across Europe. This will include voice pitch, the way someone stands, eye movements and so on
  • all juicy tidbits of information about you (including private or sensitive) will be tagged, flagged and shared amongst European police forces (heck, give up on Project Indect – why not just create a pan-European police force?)
  • secret squirrel types (Government, police, any interested authorities) will be able to whip up a personal dossier on you in a matter of minutes. Some idiot EU politician will lovingly refer to this as “a single source of truth”.
  • Indect – they clearly misspelt INDICT – because that is what will happen to you. God knows what innocent thing you might do to glean the attention of this artificial intelligence crap system; get the knock on the door in the middle of the night; be spirited off and then indicted for some “abnormal behaviour” (or for what you might do based on profiling).
  • this is about predicting the likelihood to offend. It’s about modelling potentially criminal and anti-social behaviour and focusing on individuals BEFORE crimes are committed.
  • this is not about keeping EU citizens safe and tucked up in bed not having to worry about so-called terrorist threats. This is not about creating a more secure society.
  • this sounds more like an initiative to help police forces – something they can use to round up dissenters.

Really, my tolerance for this sort of stupidity is getting very low. If you want to know what type of society we’ll end up living in, you can turn to no-one more intelligent and insightful than Aldous Huxley. This may be an ancient, quaint TV interview (with interviewer Mike Wallace smoking and I think from 1958) and it may be talking about the US but if you ask me, it’s just as relevant today. Watch these videos, listen carefully to what he is saying. Think. Reflect. Particularly about misuse of powers. Aldous Huxley implores us not to be taken by surprise but to be eternally vigilant about our civil liberties.

Entry filed under: Civil liberties, European Union, Surveillance society, YouTube. Tags: , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. irene  |  October 1, 2009 at 5:57 am

    strange behaviour

    Over the centuries people have had really funny ideas about what consitutes odd and dangerous behaviour. From my understanding of some of these suspicions we’ve generally got it wrong. Spy agencies haev collected a lot of information on the basis of oddities. For example if you collected stamps you were a target for recruitment by USSR spies etc.

    Rumour has it that if you ordered wholegrain bread with avocadoes for lunch at Queenstown in Tasmania at the height of the no dams campaign, they treated you as a greenie.

    And in any case as soon as some people know what is odd they will start acting that way simply because it reffles feathers and that’s what they want.


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