What is INDECT?
INDECT stands for “INtelligent information system supporting observation, searching and DEteCTion for security of citizens in urban environment”. It is a research project of the European Union launched in 2009 and planned to be finished in 2013.
INDECT is the most extensive surveillance project ever planned or established. It is not limited to monitoring the internet. People on the street won’t escape INDECT either. What sounds like weird science fiction could become disturbing reality as soon as 2013. Science fiction was yesterday. INDECT will be tomorrow. INDECT combines all data from forums, social networks (e.g. Facebook) and internet search engines with government databases, communication data and feeds from street surveillance cameras. INDECT will know where we are, what we do, why we do it and what we are going to do next. INDECT will know our friends and our place of work. INDECT will judge whether we are behaving normally or irregularly.
INDECT consists of the following measures:
- Internet surveillance using search engines, UseNet, social networks (Facebook, WKW etc.), forums, blogs, P2P networks and individual computer systems
- Image and video search using watermarks, as well as automated search algorithms to find depictions of violence and “abnormal behavior”.
- Advanced computer linguistic algorithms which are able to bind relations between persons and contexts of conversations into the analysis and interpretation of messages (for example, in chats).
On the streets
- “Mobile Urban Observation System”
- Drones = flying surveillance cameras (so-called “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs, for example the Quadrocopter)
- The UAVs shall be connected “intelligently and autonomously” into a network to co-operate, allowing to both identify suspicious moving objects and trace them in cities automatically through hive patterns.
- Surveillance cameras use biometric data from passports to identify persons and create movement profiles.
Data obtained through these measures will be fed into a database, continuously updated and complemented by existing data, for example:
- Surveillance camera feeds
- Mobile phone location tagging (GSM, GPS)
- Face recognition (e.g. biometric data in electronic passports)
- Communication monitoring (data retention)
A survey among Polish policemen has shown that the following points may be used as criteria for “abnormal behavior”. You are considered dangerous if you…
- On the street
- drive too fast
- In mass transport
- sit on the floor
- sit for too long
- forget your baggage
- In stadiums
- throw bottles
- run onto the playing field
- In airports
- forget your baggage
- sit for too long
The survey results are used to deduce types of behavior which should be automatically tagged as “suspicious”:
- moving in the “wrong” direction
- more than X persons meeting together
- stealing a car
- forgetting luggage
- sitting for longer than X minutes
- gunfire, explosions
…to make it short, you are suspicious whatever you do. So if you sit on the floor in a bus, stay too long on the bus or forget your luggage, you have to expect security personnel to catch up with you. People who “hang around”, meet with too many others or swear, are just as suspicious.
Based on individual profiles the programs shall learn to identify “dangerous persons” automatically. If someone who is considered “dangerous” is identified by a surveillance system, their data may be requested by the system automatically from the databases. After a quick scan the person is placed into a certain “danger category” and if the danger is deemed to be high enough, police or security forces are alerted.
In 2012 it is planned to test INDECT on visitors of the soccer European Championship in Poland and Ukraine. The goals of this test are the identification of “abnormal behavior” and the filtering of fan chants.
In 2013 the research project is to be finished. INDECT will show results. It will be possible to gather, pool and analyze information on each citizen from all available sources. It will be possible to identify “potentially dangerous” behavior and alert the authorities. The masters of INDECT will try to predict when and where any kind of protest can come up, even before the protesters themselves know it. INDECT is a tool of intimidation and control. It allows to remain in charge without the necessity to pay attention to the people.
- INDECT wants to know what we do, before we know it ourselves
- INDECT will change our society in a way which exceeds any surveillance measures put into place before
- INDECT will define what is “normal”
- INDECT is George Orwell’s worst nightmare
Who watches the watchers?
Because of criticism those responsible for the project have decided to introduce a new level of secrecy. An “ethics board” decides from now on what information on the project is made public. The (acknowledged) members of this committee include 4 policemen, 2 researchers of security technology, 1 professor for human-machine interaction, 1 representative of the media industry, 1 law professor, 1 human rights attorney and 1 ethics professor (http://www.indect-project.eu/ethics-board-members). You may decide for yourself whether you trust a committee with such a composition to act in an independent and responsible way.
Links to further information
- Official EU INDECT web site http://www.indect-project.eu
- INDECT at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INDECT
- general link collection: Link collection