The European Union is developing a 21st century panopticon, a beast surveillance system that critics describe as “Orwellian,” “sinister,” and “positively chilling,” that would collate data from numerous sources, including surveillance cameras and personal computers, in order to detect “abnormal behavior” across the entire continent.
In a broader sense, this is part of the move towards creating a pan-European federal police force, where information and powers are shared as part of a centralized system. It is also a giant step towards the creation of a European CIA tasked not with keeping tabs on foreign enemies, but spying on its own population.
The surveillance system, known as Project Indect, promises to collect information by way of “continuous monitoring” of “web sites, discussion forums, usenet groups, file servers, p2p networks [and] individual computer systems”. It will also use CCTV feeds and other surveillance methods to develop models of “suspicious behavior” by analyzing the pitch of people’s voices (suggesting that private conversations will be recorded) as well as “the way their bodies move”.
Its main objective will be the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behavior or violence”.
This is Echelon on steroids, a new version of the decades old NSA-run program that has already been spying on citizens for years, updated and expanded for the technological applications of the early 21st century. In 1999, the Australian government admitted that they were part of an NSA-led global intercept and surveillance grid in alliance with the US and Britain that could listen to “every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission,” on the planet. Project Indect is merely a new incarnation of the same beast surveillance system.
Open Europe analyst Stephen Booth described the project as “Orwellian” and a “huge invasion of privacy,” noting that European citizens’ own taxes will go towards a program that treats them all as guilty until proven innocent.
“Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society,” added Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty.
“It’s dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling,” she said.
Project Indect is a huge lurch forward in the agenda to construct a mammoth surveillance pen within which the population of the entire planet is imprisoned.
The methods being employed to do this are a technologically advanced throwback to social theorist Jeremy Bentham’s 1785 concept of The Panopticon, a specially constructed prison building designed “to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the “sentiment of an invisible omniscience.”
Bentham described the Panopticon as “a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”
The notion that the individual does not know when they are being watched by the authorities is key in achieving the ultimate goal, to keep the population in a constant state of subjugation, unease and fear, leading them to self-regulate their own behavior.
According to Danish Institute for Human Rights researcher Peter Scharff, the Panopticon was intended to promote “self-regulation that was to be provoked by the constant surveillance”. The concept was eventually incorporated into many prisons that continue today as “podular” designs, which also maximizes the amount of people that can be controlled by one person. The fact that authorities are building societal prisons around us all today using the same basic methods of control is enough to send a chill down anyone’s spine and remind us once again that freedom is a myth.
This has nothing to do with catching criminals – as recent figures in the UK have proven, CCTV cameras have virtually no impact on crime whatsoever. This is all about letting the slaves know who their bosses are, it’s a psychological mind game set up to distinguish and reinforce the master-servant relationship between the state and the individual.
The endgame is to convince the individual that to express their freedom in public, to engage in any kind of protest or merely to question the power structure that surrounds them, is a “suspicious” act detrimental to society and that negative consequences will follow for any slave who dares to step outside of this invisible yet oppressive jail cell.
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