INDECT: Big Brother’s Full Spectrum Surveillance Project

image: INDECT homepage

Nicholas West
Activist Post

The race to perfect and implement true pre-crime technology continues to accelerate. Stalwarts of computer tech, such as IBM seen below, and Microsoft in their agreement with the New York police, are investing in a cooperative effort with big government to hit the last nail in the coffin of human liberty – our thoughts.

Anonymous has previously issued several warnings and action items to thwart the encroaching surveillance grid, and now brings to light INDECT 2013 in their recent semi-satirical video. Whether or not Anonymous is controlled opposition shouldn’t preclude investigation of this very real program. The INDECT initiative was reported on by The Singularity Hub back in 2009 as:

a wide ranging five year plan to bring passive and active monitoring to almost every aspect of public life in the EU. Hardware and software platforms to monitor public spaces for ‘abnormal behavior’, special search engines for images and documents using ubiquitous hidden digital watermarks, and internet based intelligence gathering that will monitor public networking communities – if you’ve had a nightmare about government invasion of privacy, chances are that Project Indect is trying to make it come true. (Source)

After tens of millions of pounds in funding, it seems that we are on the cusp of what INDECT promised for the “security of European citizens.”

The core of INDECT is real-time behavioral analysis and mapping which ultimately could produce an algorithm of likely future behavior. It is the amalgamation of all of the pieces that have so far been introduced: video surveillance footage, biometric information, web-based data, drones, GPS, police databases and more. The project aims to correct the flaws contained in these disparate systems and offer seamless data integration across platforms in order to instantly determine threats.

Perhaps the creepiest aspect of this technology is the reverence given toward the machine mind vs. the human mind. The video highlights inherent limitations in wide-range human scanning and instant analysis abilities. Mankind, comprised of such weaknesses, is implied to be ill-equipped to handle the new world of the ever-present terrorist and criminal threats. Therefore, humanity must be willing to relinquish its place to the vastly superior machine matrix where real-world tracking and Web searches merge into persistent surveillance of all human activity.

And, naturally, this matrix of systems will be automated, echoing similar goals for drones and other forms of machine warfare. The result is an all-encompassing attempt to render daily life as part of a terrorist threatscape where all are suspect and thus subjected to being scrutinized by the “flawless” scanning devices and decision making of the computer mind.

The following video is IBM’s concept for enabling police to use predictive analytics to reduce crime by up to 30%. It’s worth noting the use of the phrase, “Let’s build a smarter planet.” For key information about the “Smart” planet to which IBM likes to refer, please see the series of articles by Julie Beal, outlining everything from economic control to gun control.

Just in case the above information might prompt anxiety about full implementation of such technology – and despite the fact that much of the surveillance apparatus already exists – we apparently shouldn’t worry, because the European Commission would like to put our minds at ease with the following statement:

Not a European surveillance system

Contrary to widespread allegations, there are no plans for a European wide Orwellian surveillance system. INDECT will simply enable existing video surveillance systems in small areas to better react in crisis situations (such as violence on train platforms, crowd panics, hooligans throwing objects). Such video surveillance systems are already installed in underground stations or in football stadiums. INDECT will not add any new cameras, but will enable existing systems to be more efficient as it will help automate police or security officers’ analysis of the huge amount of images provided through video surveillance cameras.

There will never be a centralized European INDECT system. The EU is merely co-financing a research project implemented by universities and research centres in 12 EU Member States with a total budget of € 15 mio (EU contribution of € 10,9 mio). It will then be up to Members States and research partners to implement decentralised and focussed improved video surveillance systems – in restricted areas – to improve security at places where risk is higher that persons can be harmed.

The main characteristics in a nutshell

  • INDECT is a security research project co-financed by the EU’s Framework Programme 7 for Research and Innovation (FP7) (INDECT = Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment)
  • INDECT is not installing any cameras in the EU or filming people at random. It is also not linked to any of existing databases and social networks. All that INDECT is working on is an improved way to analyse the existing images of video surveillance cameras.
  • INDECT is thus developing algorithms to identify images that allow the detection of dangerous or criminal behaviour. Examples could for instance be crowd panic during public events, or when people throw objects in football stadiums.
  • There is no secret information on INDECT that is not published. There is nothing “secret” about INDECT. All the information on this project can be found on the website of the project and on the websites of the Commission.
  • INDECT is only tested by volunteers: Like most research projects INDECT is tested by volunteers. It will not be tested in real life situations. No testing of the research carried out by INDECT will take place during sport/entertainment events. An explicit disclaimer has been uploaded on the website of INDECT in 2011 on this matter.
  • Technologies developed by INDECT are intended for police and other law enforcement authorities of the Member States.
  • Should Member States intend to use such new technologies within the scope of Union law, they are bound to comply with the existing national and EU laws.

Advantages of INDECT 

INDECT could have helped to avoid mass panic during the Loveparade in Duisburg, Germany 

One could easily imagine situations where such a technology could have been very useful, like the crowd rush at the Loveparade in Duisburg or the tragedy in the Heysel Stadium in Brussels in 1985. 

The INDECT project is trying to tackle an essential problem for police work – there is too much surveillance footage to monitor.Mass panics can be better dealt with, ambulances better directed, lives can be saved 

In times of crisis or attacks it is nearly impossible for the police to monitor all the information provided by today’s surveillance technologies. The most explicit example for this was the London bombing in 2005 which lead to the deaths of 52 innocent people. 

Following these attacks, the metropolitan police had to withdraw hundreds of police from the streets and put them in front of screens to identify the attackers and their background. 

Media do not report accurately on INDECT 

Several media outlets have reported misleading information on the nature and aims of the INDECT project. This is a sign of a healthy democratic society in which media are free and no one can impose boundaries on the free flow of information. For the sake of accuracy, we have listed below a selection of misleading articles accompanied by the correct facts.

  • INDECT was not tested during the UEFA football championship. This was incorrectly reported by Die ZeitDer Spiegel, AFP, Focus, Der Standard
  • Poland did not withdraw from the project. This was incorrectly reported by Dziennik Gazeta Prawna in the article “O tym, jak MSW wystraszylo sie Anonymusa” page: 1 by Robert Zielinski on Monday, April 16, 2012 ; and by  Polska The Times in the article “MSW i policja wycofuja sie ze wspólpracy nad INDECT” page: 3 by Anita Czupryn on Monday, April 16, 2012 

Not the EU, but researchers in 12 EU Member States work on INDECT 

The European Commission is not working on INDECT, but is financing research carried in 12 Member States.

This statement, which can be read in full here, includes some of the additional wonderful benefits of such technology. I have to wonder which is more Orwellian: the technology itself, or the doublespeak issued by the European Commission that denies direct involvement while admitting to funding the project.

What do you think? Please leave your comments below.  

Read other articles by Nicholas West Here

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