Project Indect – the very name sounds Orwellian – was revealed last weekend by Open Europe and the Sunday Telegraph to be a five year research programme ‘to develop computer programmes which act as "agents" to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.’
As well as receiving close to £10 million in funding from the EU (which means from you) this sinister enterprise also forms part of a call from the European Commission for a “common culture” of law enforcement which includes sending batches of our own police out to Brussels for training in the European Union’s new enforcement methods.
The Project, despite the far-reaching implications for individual privacy, seems to have met with little opposition within the current UK government. Although this is hardly surprising given that a recent report from Sir Daivd Varney, close adviser to Gordon Brown, called for the creation of 'a single source of truth' on the citizen.
However, Stephen Booth from Open Europe sensibly questioned the project saying "there is no evidence that anyone has ever asked 'is this actually in the best interests of our citizens?'" While the ever vigilant Shami Chakrabarti said "Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society. It's dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling."
But the chorus of disapproval, to which Big Brother Watch today adds its voice in the strongest possible way, could well be ignored as the EU seeks to economise in a credit crunch. A spokesman from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who are involved in Project Indect’s development, said: “Our budgets are shrinking, our human resources are shrinking and we are looking for IT technology that will help us five years down the line.”
Scary stuff and proof that it isn’t only the British government BBW needs to be watching.
By Dylan Sharpe