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Europe’s new security-industrial complex

September 25, 2009

neoconopticonThere is a superb and chilling new report out today that utterly demolishes the European Union’s claims to be in any way an  ethical or progressive leader on issues of security and surveillance. The report written by Ben Hayes for the Transantional Institute and Statewatch, documents in some detail the new vision for security in the EU, which the authors describe as a ‘neo-con-opticon.’ The report confirms a lot of things that have been concerning me about the direction and emphasis of EU security research and the increasingly unnacountable and behind closed-doors ways in which security policy is being developed. I asked back in January in an editorial in Surveillance & Society whether surveillance was becoming the new ‘baroque arsenal’, Mary Kaldor’s famous phrase to describe the huge, intricate and complex technocentric security structures of the second Cold War. This report answers that question with a resounding ‘yes’.

The press release quotes from the introduction:

“Despite the often benign intent behind collaborative European research into integrated land, air, maritime, space and cyber-surveillance systems, the EU’s security and R&D policy is coalescing around a high-tech blueprint for a new kind of security. It envisages a future world of red zones and green zones; external borders controlled by military force and internally by a sprawling network of physical and virtual security checkpoints; public spaces, micro-states and mega events policed by high-tech surveillance systems and rapid reaction forces; peacekeeping and crisis management missions that make no operational distinction between the suburbs of Basra or the Banlieue; and the increasing integration of defence and national security functions at home and abroad.

It is not just a case of sleepwalking into or waking up to a surveillance society, as the UK’s Information Commissioner famously warned, it feels more like turning a blind eye to the start of a new kind of arms race, one in which all the weapons are pointing inwards. Welcome to the NeoConOpticon.”

But don’t stop there. You can (well, you must) read the full report here: NeoConOpticon – The EU Security-Industrial Complex

And whilst you are at it, download Tony Bunyan’s equally superb report, The Shape of Things to Come – the EU Future Group, on the EU’s thoroughly undemocratic attempt to bypass public debate and hand internal security and surveillance policy over to the transnational security companies and the police and intelligence services.

(thanks to Rosamunde van Brakel for passing this on)

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