The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for “abnormal behaviour”.
A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims 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.
Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence”.
Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.
The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.
The European Commission is calling for a “common culture” of law enforcement to be developed across the EU and for a third of police officers – more than 50,000 in the UK alone – to be given training in European affairs within the next five years.