NeoConOpticon

October 4, 2009 at 2:00 am 2 comments

neoconopticonI am pretty well hyper-ventilating. You know I have said MANY times that we are sleepwalking into a surveillance society (to paraphrase the UK Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas).  I’ve asked why there are so many sheep out there, not asking serious questions about why we are being surveilled, who is doing the surveilling, who has access to and can use the information about us.  Some sheep people have used the tired old mantra “if you have nothing to hide…” blah blah.

Well, perhaps they (and you) should read a chilling report I’ve found. It’s called NeoConOpticon, written by Ben Hayes for the Transnational Institute and Statewatch. You can download it here.

Let me give the gist of it though:

  • the European Union has gone mad
  • it is outsourcing to major corporations the development and implementation of the European Security Research Programme (ESRP) aka a powerful, interoperable European surveillance system that will be used for civilian, commercial, police, security and defence purposes alike;
  • these major corporations (eg Thales, Saab) will develop and bring “security technologies” to market and assist with a Homeland Security framework for Europe;
  • there has been no public debate about ESRP; minimal monitoring of its implementation; and bodies created outside of the EU decision-making structure eg Security Research Advisory Board;
  • the ESRP is not there to protect civil liberties or keep the European Union safe from terrorists and weirdos – nope, it is going to foster the growth of a very lucrative and globally competitive “homeland security” industry in Europe. Defence and IT contractors will be rolling in money, whilst EU citizens’ civil liberties will be kaput.

Here is what the future holds for the EU and its citizens according to the report and I quote (p5):

“Despite the often benign intent behind collaborative European research into integrated land, air, maritime, space and cyber-surveillance systems, the EU’s security and R&D policy is coalescing around a high-tech blueprint for a new kind of security. It envisages a future world of red zones and green zones; external borders controlled by military force and internally by a sprawling network of physical and virtual security checkpoints; public spaces, micro-states and mega events policed by high-tech surveillance systems and rapid reaction forces; peacekeeping and crisis management missions that make no operational distinction between the suburbs of Basra or the Banlieue; and the increasing integration of defence and national security functions at home and abroad.

It is not just a case of sleepwalking into or waking up to a surveillance society, as the UK’s Information Commissioner famously warned, it feels more like turning a blind eye to the start of a new kind of arms race, one in which all the weapons are pointing inwards. Welcome to the NeoConOpticon.”

I think the title of the report is clever: Neocon of course referring to the political philosophy that supports military and economic power to bring democracy to countries and, through this, make a heap of profit. Opticon referring to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon – a prison design that allowed the prison guards to observe all the prisoners ie inward-looking surveillance.  So the title is referring to the private sector’s central role in delivering surveillance-based security technologies and putting us all in the Panopticon.

The fact is: before 9/11 the “Homeland Security” industry didn’t exist. The Neocons keep carrying on about making us safe from terrorism but what is really happening is this – militarisation and securitisation – and this will ultimately mean increased authoritarianism.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that all this security and surveillance crap is there for your benefit. It’s no longer based on a sense of security. It’s shifted to being based on profit, fear mongering and control. And Israel appears to be in the centre of things (because of its world leading security industry).

Don’t believe me. READ THE REPORT. Yes, I’m shouting at you because I want you to wake up and arm yourself with information.

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Entry filed under: surveillance, Surveillance society, Useful resources. Tags: , .

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