Sep 082010
 
 September 8, 2010  Non-U.S., Surveillance

A new document on ethical issues published by the INDECT European research project on public surveillance has once more attracted the scrutiny of the media. Previous allegations of secrecy were followed by an attempt to strengthen the project’s Ethics Board. The new document however notes that addressing ethical concerns requires time that cannot be spent on research. It therefore recommends to simply stop disclosing any project deliverables that could negatively impact “organisational reputation” and other sensitive topics.

The INDECT Project, funded with almost 11 million euros, aims to research on “Intelligent information system supporting observation, searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment” but was qualified by The Telegraph last year as the “‘Orwellian’ artificial intelligence plan to monitor public for ‘abnormal behaviour'”.

Following the article, a lot of public pressure was put from media, civil society and the European Parliament. MEPs addressed to the European Commission 10 questions in the past year related to the project and its privacy ethics.

One of the answers of the European Commission was: “In order to further enhance the role of the project’s Ethics Board, the Commission will recommend to the project to add an additional independent expert. This expert will have proven expertise in ethical and data protection issues”, but, so far, the Ethics board has been dominated by Police Officers and no privacy experts.

Read more on European Digital Rights.

Update: From Slashdot:

“The German Pirate Party has disclosed some secret documents on how the EU is planning to monitor citizens. The so called INDECT Documents describe how a seamless surveillance could (or should) be implemented across Europe. …  Two of the nine documents can be downloaded from the German Pirate Party’s website (PDFs in English).”

  2 Responses to “INDECT – Privacy Ethics In A Secret Project (update)”

  1. Ah, lovely old INDECT… Covered back in October 2009 on Wikinews.

    http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Listening_to_you_at_last:_EU_plans_to_tap_cell_phones

    Alas, Drew Harris (IIRC) of the Police Service of Northern Ireland – who happens to be the head of the INDECT Ethics board declined to ask some rather pointed questions we put to him.

    If I recall, the list of tough questions was BCC’d to various journalists, including the Indie and Telegraph. It’d be about two weeks ago one of them deleted that email, sending a READ-REQUEST response indicating such.

    More concerning, were the comments from EU-based people associated with the EFF about contracts for INDECT development work going to Israeli security firms.

    INDECT is bad news – unless you’re naive enough to believe, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”.

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