Wednesday, 7 July 2010

New EU mass surveillance project revealed

by Marc Glendening

Statewatch, the civil liberties body that monitors the EU, has gained access to Council of Ministers Conclusions that reveal that Brussels now wants law enforcement agencies in its member countries to build lists of political activists as part of a 'systematic data collection'.

Those responsible in the member countries for acquiring the information on 'agents of radicalisation' have been sent by the EU a 'data compilation instrument' that includes a list of 70 questions they are requested to answer.

This involves discovering who the targeted activists socialise with, family members, psychological traits, religious affiliation, activities, economic status, and, very revealingly, 'oral comments' - presumably ascertained through phone taps - they have made on political issues (Guardian, June 8, 2010).

Vague definition

What actually constitutes being considered to be an 'agent of radicalisation' is not defined in any degree of detail and leaves open the door to wide categories of people finding themselves of potential interest to EU agencies.

The EU documents refer to 'extreme right/left, Islamist, nationalist, anti-globalisation' groups as some of those qualifying for surveillance, but the Democracy Movement will now use Freedom of Information requests within the UK to try and discover what precise criteria those in the UK entrusted with building this database will employ.

Europol, the EU's fledgling FBI equivalent, will pull together the information gathered at the member state level.

Broader authoritarian agenda

This move by the EU to document and keep under surveillance political activists follows on from the establishment of Project Indect.

This European Commission funded and inititated programme is designed to develop a system of automated surveillance monitors that will identify 'abnormal behaviour'.

In addition to CCTV footage, these sensors will comb through web sites, internet discussion forums, file servers and individual computers.

In Britain, York University and the Police Service of Northern Ireland are spearheading the development of this project with £10million of Brussels funding.

Again, there is a failure, or refusal, to actually spell out what constitutes 'abnormal behaviour' and this means that what in a traditional liberal democracy might be considered to be legitimate activity that should be free of state surveillance will, in the context of the EU, be considered appropriate for state intervention.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty, has described Project Indect as 'positively chilling'.

EU critics to be targets?

It is perhaps worth recalling in this context that, famously, the Vienna-based EU Monitoring Centre for Racism and Xenophobia (since morphed into the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights) once defined opposition to the European single currency as "monetary xenophobia"!

So it is therefore far from utterly inconceivable that those groups and persons who are opposed to European political union could find themselves defined by EU agencies as being nationalist 'agents of radicalism' and participants in 'abnormal behaviour', worthy of having their phones and computers tapped, among other activities.

No democracy

In addition to the dangerously illiberal content of this new EU drive to document and keep tabs on political activists, what is disturbing is the fact that this policy is being executed without any parliamentary or public consultation whatsoever.

Had the commendable Statewatch not somehow managed to see and expose the relevant documents, nobody in this or anyother member country would even be aware this was even taking place.

Welcome to the EU's new, exciting, post-Lisbon, post-democracy.
written by Marc Glendening

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How much is the EU paying this propagandist?

This apologist is out in force once again: - ibis