Saturday, February 05, 2005

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Internal Repression

According to Annex 1 of European Council regulation (EC) No 174/2005 fingerprint equipment can be used for internal repression.

The following is comprised of selected excerpts from a 112 page report prepared by the SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL OPTIONS ASSESSMENT (STOA), "Directorate General for Research," Luxembourg. The report, entitled "AN APPRAISAL OF THE TECHNOLOGY OF POLITICAL CONTROL," was published in January of 1998 as prepared for the European Parliament. It is an exhaustive study of current and existing "political control" technologies. This is a MUST READ!

The complete report is available in hard copy from the original source; linked from here



The purpose of this report is to explore the most recent developments in the technology of political control and the major consequences associated with their integration into processes and strategies of policing and internal control.



Throughout the Nineties, many governments have spent huge sums on the research, development, procurement and deployment of new technology for their police, para-military and internal security forces. The objective of this development work has been to increase and enhance each agency's policing capacities. A dominant assumption behind this technocratisation of the policing process, is the belief that it has created both a faster policing response time and a greater cost-effectiveness. The main aim of all this effort has been to save policing resources by either automating certain control, amplifying the rate of particular activities, or decreasing the number of officers required to perform them.


There are essentially two opposing schools of thought.

The first school of thought identifies developments in policing technology with efficiency, cost-effectiveness and modernisation. This school believes that the police and internal security agencies require the most up to date forms of equipment to fight crime, mob-rule and terrorism. Sophisticated law enforcement is viewed as value free and state security agencies are considered to be in the best position to determine their operational requirements. (See Applegate 1969), New technologies aid the police by ensuring that messages are rapidly received and dealt with, personnel are freed for other duties and overall efficiency is enhanced. Only those with something to hide need fear the enlarged data gathering capacities of police computers. Modern riot technology is presented as a much preferred non-lethal alternative to the use of guns and the police should always be allowed to use 'minimum force when dealing with actual or potential law breakers. Existing controls and regulations governing the use of this technology are considered by adherents of this school to have been adequately designed to ensure that no misuse takes place. Advanced police technology is therefore understood in this context as an invaluable aid to upholding the freedoms cherished as inalienable rights by citizens living in Western Liberal democracies. Its export to other countries sharing the same economic and ideological views, is viewed as an opportunity to help modernise law enforcement and buttress mutual stability, law and order.


The opposing school of thought on the other hand views police technology and the associated 'policing revolution' quite differently (See Manwaring-White, 1983). They believe that innovations in political control technology has put powerful new tools at the disposal of states in need of technical fixes for their most pressing and intractable social and political problems. It is at the point where authority fails that repression begins (Hoefnagels, 1977) and at that point an illegitimate government will use more force just to keep the lid on. (See Chart.1a.) As the crisis deepens, further force is required and the role of technology in such a situation is to act as a force amplifier. Once the shaded area is reached (Chart.1b), terror becomes the only government service.

New police technologies are perceived to be one of the most important factors in attempting sub-state conflict control. Such 'control' is viewed as more apparent than real, but serves the purpose of disguising the level of coercive repression being applied. This school of thought argues that once operationally deployed, these technologies exert a profound effect on the character of policing. Whether these changes are symptom or cause of the ensuing change in policing organisations, a major premise of this school of thought is that a range of unforeseen impacts are associated with the process of integrating these technologies into a society's social, political and cultural control systems.



One core trend has been towards a militarisation of the police and a paramilitarisation of military forces in Europe. Often this begins via special units involved in crisis policing, such as the Special Weapons and Tactics Squads such as the Grenz Schutz Gruppe in Germany; the Gendarmeries National in France; the Carabinieri in Italy; and the Special Patrol Group in the UK or the federal police paramilitary teams in the United States (FBI, DEA & BATF) that adopt the same weaponry as their military counterparts. Then a growing percentage of ordinary police are trained in public order duties and tactics which incorporate some element of firearms training. The tactical training is often a mirror image of the low intensity counter-revolutionary warfare tactics adopted by the military...


3.2 Surveillance Technologies are one of the fastest growing areas of the technology of political control and a key problem is how to deal with the torrent of information it yields The term covers a vast range of products and devices but the overall trend is towards miniaturization, more precise resolution through the adoption of digital technology and increasing automation so that the technology can be more effectively targeted. The technology also parallels political shifts in targeting so that instead of investigating crime, a reactive activity, the fastest growing trend is towards tracking certain strata, social classes and races of people living in red-lined areas before any crime is committed. Such a form of proactive policing is based on military models of gathering huge amounts of low grade intelligence. With new systems such as Memex, it is possible to quickly build up a comprehensive picture of virtually anyone by gaining electronic access to all their records, cash transactions, cars held, etc. Such pre-emptive policing means the majority are ignored and policing resources are more tightly focused on certain groups. Such powerful forms of artificial intelligence need continuous assessment. They have an important role to play in tracking criminals. The danger is that their infrastructure is essentially a massive machinery of supervision that can be retargeted fairly quickly should the political context change.

Automatic fingerprint readers are now common place, and many European companies make them (see Fig 5). But any unique attribute of anatomy or personal style can be used to create a human identity recognition system. For example Cellmark Diagnostics(UK) can recognise genes; Mastiff Security Systems(UK) can recognise odour, Hagen Cy-Com(UK) and Eyedentify Inc.(USA) can recognise the pattern of capillaries at the back of the retina; whilst AEA Technology(UK) are capable of signature verification. Over 109 companies in Europe are known to be supplying such biometric systems. DNA fingerprinting is now a reality and Britain has set up the first DNA databank, and is already carrying out mass dawn raids of over 1000 people at targeted suspects. Plans are being drawn up by at least one political party to DNA profile the nation from birth. The leading edge companies are racing towards developing face recognition systems which they see as being able to revolutionise crime customs and intruder detection as well as service access control. Whilst fully reliable systems are perhaps five years off, prototype systems have been developed in France, Germany the UK and the USA.

Night vision technology developed as a result of the Vietnam war has now been adapted for police usage (See Fig.6). Particularly successful are heli-tele surveillance versions which allow cameras to track human heat signatures in total darkness. The art of bugging has been made significantly easier by a rapidly advancing technology and there is a burgeoning European market. Many systems described in Section 4 (below), do not even require physical entry into the home or office. For those who can secure access to their target room, there is a plethora of devices, many pre-packaged to fit into phones, look like cigarette packets or light fittings and some, like the ever popular PK 805 and PK 250, that can be tuned into from a suitable radio. However, the next generation of covert audio bugs are remotely operated, for example the multi-room monitoring system of Lorraine Electronics called DIAL (Direct Intelligent Access Listening) allows an operator to monitor several rooms from anywhere in the world without effecting an illegal entry. Up to four concealed microphones are connected to the subscribers line and these can be remotely activated by simply making a coded telephone call to the target building.

Neural network bugs go one step further. Built like a small cockroach, as soon as the lights go out they can crawl to the best location for surveillance. In fact Japanese researchers have taken this idea one step further, controlling and manipulating real cockroaches by implanting microprocessors and electrodes in their bodies. The insects can be fitted with micro cameras and sensors to reach the places other bugs can't reach. Passive Millimeter Wave Imaging developed by the US Millitech corporation can scan people from up to 12 feet away and see through clothing to detect concealed items such as weapons, packages and other contraband. Variations of this through-clothing human screening under development (by companies such as the US Raytheon Co.), include systems which illuminate an individual with a low-intensity electromagnetic pulse. A three side very-low X ray system for human useage, in fixed sites such as prisons, is being developed by Nicolet Imaging Systems of San Diego. Electronic monitoring of offenders or 'tagging', where the subject wears an electronic bracelet which can detect if they have relocated from their home after certain hours etc, has entered into use in the 1990's after being developed to regulate prison populations in the USA. (Schmidt, 1988). Satellite tracking of VIPs, vehicles, etc., is now facilitated by the once military Global-Positioning System(GPS) which is now available for commercial uses. Vehicle recognition technologies are discussed in Section 4 below.

3.3 Data-veillance - The use of telematics by the police has revolutionised policing in the last decade and created the shift towards pre-emptive policing. It is properly the focus of an earlier STOA report on the technology of political control. Some of the most recent trends are discussed in Section 4 below. A comprehensive analysis of how such equipment has led to widespread abuse of civil liberties and human rights has been published by Privacy International (1995) and includes 100 pages of all the companies involved in servicing the security requirements of the regimes mapped in Fig. 38.

Using data profilers, torturing states have used these systems to compile death lists. For example, the Tadiran computer supplied to Guatemala and installed in the control center of the national palace. According to a senior Guatemalan military official, "the complex contains an archive and a computer file on journalists, students, leaders, people on the left, politicians and so on." Meetings were held in the annex to select assassination victims. A US priest who fled the country after appearing on such a death list said, "They had printout lists at the border crossings and at the airport. Once you got on that - then its like bounty hunters." Within Europe, systems, such as that produced by Harlequin, allow the automatic production of maps of who phoned whom to show friendship networks. Other companies such as Memex described above, allow entire life profiles of virtually anyone in a state having an official existence. Photographs and video material can be included in the record and typically up to 700 other databases can be hoovered at any one time, to extend the data profile in real time. Significant changes in the capacity of new surveillance systems can be anticipated with the advent of new materials such as Buckminster Fullerene, which will lead to minaturisation of systems by several orders of magnitude.


Surveillance technology can be defined as devices or systems which can monitor, track and assess the movements of individuals, their property and other assets. Much of this technology is used to track the activities of dissidents, human rights activists, journalists, student leaders, minorities, trade union leaders and political opponents.

"Subtler and more far reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the government. Discovery and invention have made it possible for the government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet."

So said US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, way back in 1928. Subsequent developments go far beyond anything which Brandeis could have dreamt of. New technologies which were originally conceived for the Defence and Intelligence sectors, have after the cold war, rapidly spread into the law enforcement and private sectors. It is one of the areas of technological advance, where outdated regulations have not kept pace with an accelerating pattern of abuses.


By the 1980's, new forms of electronic surveillance were emerging many of these were directed towards automation of communications interception. This trend was fuelled in the U. S. in the 1990's by accelerated government funding at the end of the cold war, with defence and intelligence agencies being refocussed with new missions to justify their budgets, transferring their technologies to certain law enforcement applications such as anti-drug and anti-terror operations. In 1993, the US department of defense and the Justice department signed memoranda of understanding for "Operations Other Than War and Law Enforcement" to facilitate joint development and sharing of technology. According to David Banisar of Privacy International, "To counteract reductions in military contracts which began in the 1980's, computer and electronics companies are expanding into new markets - at home and abroad - with equipment originally developed for the military. Companies such as E Systems, Electronic Data Systems (founded by Ross Perot ) and Texas Instruments are selling advanced computer systems and surveillance equipment to state and local governments that use them for law enforcement, border control and Welfare administration."

According to Banisar, the simple need for increased bureaucratic efficiency - necessitated by shrinking budgets has been a powerful imperative for improved identification and monitoring of individuals. "Fingerprints, ID cards, data matching and other privacy invasive schemes were originally tried on populations with little political power, such as welfare recipients, immigrants, criminals and members of the military, and then applied up the socioeconomic ladder. One in place, the policies are difficult to remove and inevitably expand into more general use." These technologies fit roughly into three broad categories. namely surveillance, identification and networking, and are often used in conjunction as with video cameras and face recognition or biometrics and ID cards. For Banisar, "They facilitate mass and routine surveillance of large segments of the population without the need for warrants and formal investigations. What the East German secret police could only dream of is rapidly becoming a reality in the free world."

4.1 Vehicle Recognition Systems

A huge range of surveillance technologies has evolved, including the night vision goggles discussed in 3 above; parabolic microphones to detect conversations over a kilometre away(see Fig.18); laser versions marketed by the German company PK Electronic, can pick up any conversation from a closed window in line of sight; the Danish Jai stroboscopic camera (Fig.19) which can take hundreds of pictures in a matter of seconds and individually photograph all the participants in a demonstration or March; and the automatic vehicle recognition systems which can identify a car number plate then track the car around a city using a computerised geographic information system.


4.2 CCTV Surveillance Net Works

In fact the art of visual surveillance has dramatically changed over recent years. Of course police and intelligence officers still photograph demonstrations and individuals of interest but increasingly such images can be stored and searched. (Fig. 23) The revolution in urban surveillance will reach the next generation of control once reliable face recognition comes in. It will initially be introduced at stationary locations, like turnstiles, customs points, security gateways, etc., to enable a standard full face recognition to take place. However, in the early part of the 21st. century, facial recognition on CCTV will be a reality and those countries with CCTV infrastructures will view such technology as a natural add-on.


4.4 National & International Communications Interceptions Networks

Modern communications systems are virtually transparent to the advanced interceptions equipment which can be used to listen in. Some systems even lend themselves to a dual role as a national interceptions network. For example the message switching system used on digital exchanges like System X in the UK supports an Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Protocol. This allows digital devices, e.g. fax to share the system with existing lines. The ISDN subset is defined in their documents as "Signalling CCITT1-series interface for ISDN access. What is not widely known is that built in to the international CCITT protocol is the ability to take phones 'off hook' and listen into conversations occurring near the phone, without the user being aware that it is happening. (SGR Newsletter, No.4, 1993) This effectively means that a national dial up telephone tapping capacity is built into these systems from the start. (System X has been exported to Russia & China) Similarly, the digital technology required to pinpoint mobile phone users for incoming calls, means that all mobile phone users in a country when activated, are mini-tracking devices, giving their owners whereabouts at any time and stored in the company's computer for up to two years. Coupled with System X technology, this is a custom built mobile track, tail and tap system par excellence.(Sunday Telegraph, 2.2.97).

Within Europe, all email, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted by the United States National Security Agency, transferring all target information from the European mainland via the strategic hub of London then by Satellite to Fort Meade in Maryland via the crucial hub at Menwith Hill in the North York Moors of the UK. The system was first uncovered in the 1970's by a group of researchers in the UK (Campbell, 1981). The researchers used open sources but were subsequently arrested under Britain's Official Secrets legislation. The 'ABC' trial that followed was a critical turning point in researcher's understanding both of the technology of political control and how it might be challenged by research on open sources.(See Aubrey, 1981 & Hooper 1987)

Other work on what is now known as Signals intelligence was undertaken by researchers such as James Bamford, which uncovered a billion dollar world wide interceptions network, which he nicknamed 'Puzzle Palace'. A recent work by Nicky Hager, Secret Power, (Hager, 1996) provides the most comprehensive details to date of a project known as ECHELON. Hager interviewed more than 50 people concerned with intelligence to document a global surveillance system that stretches around the world to form a targeting system on all of the key Intelsat satellites used to convey most of the world's satellite phone calls, internet, email, faxes and telexes. These sites are based at Sugar Grove and Yakima, in the USA, at Waihopai in New Zealand, at Geraldton in Australia, Hong Kong, and Morwenstow in the UK.

The ECHELON system forms part of the UKUSA system but unlike many of the electronic spy systems developed during the cold war, ECHELON is designed for primarily non-military targets: governments, organisations and businesses in virtually every country. The ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting very large quantities of communications and then siphoning out what is valuable using artificial intelligence aids like Memex. to find key words. Five nations share the results with the US as the senior partner under the UKUSA agreement of 1948, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are very much acting as subordinate information servicers.

Each of the five centres supply "dictionaries" to the other four of keywords, phrases, people and places to "tag" and the tagged intercept is forwarded straight to the requesting country. Whilst there is much information gathered about potential terrorists, there is a lot of economic intelligence, notably intensive monitoring of all the countries participating in the GATT negotiations. But Hager found that by far the main priorities of this system continued to be military and political intelligence applicable to their wider interests. Hager quotes from a"highly placed intelligence operatives" who spoke to the Observer in London. "We feel we can no longer remain silent regarding that which we regard to be gross malpractice and negligence within the establishment in which we operate." They gave as examples. GCHQ interception of three charities, including Amnesty International and Christian Aid. "At any time GCHQ is able to home in on their communications for a routine target request," the GCHQ source said. In the case of phone taps the procedure is known as Mantis. With telexes its called Mayfly. By keying in a code relating to third world aid, the source was able to demonstrate telex "fixes" on the three organisations. With no system of accountability, it is difficult to discover what criteria determine who is not a target.



With proper accountability and regulation, some of the technologies discussed above do have a legitimate law enforcement function; without such democratic controls they provide powerful tools of oppression. The unchecked vertical and horizontal proliferation of the technologies of political control described in this report, present a powerful threat to civil liberties in Europe in the s [as written] century, particularly if the political context of freedoms of expression changes in the next century, as many times as it has in the last. Whilst there are sufficient real abuses of power by the police, internal security and intelligence agencies to keep the conspiracy theorists busy for the foreseeable future, technological and decision drift will have an equal if not more powerful role to play if current trends develop unchecked. The real threat to civil liberties and human rights in the future, is as likely to arise from an incremental erosion of civil liberties, than it is from some conscious plan. The rate of such erosion is speeding up and is rapidly being fuelled by the pace of innovation in the technology of political control. An arsenal of new weapons and technologies of political control has already been developed or lies waiting on the horizon for a suitable opportunity to find useful work.

As the globalisation of political control technologies increases, Members of the European Parliament have a right and a responsibility to challenge the costs, as well as the alleged benefits of so called advances in law enforcement. This report has sought to highlight some of the areas which are leading to the most undesirable social and political consequences (such as advances in so called 'non-lethal weapons' or the emergence of a vast international machinery of communications supervision) and where a return to a fuller form of democratic control is seen as desirable. The social and political implications of other innovations mentioned above such as human recognition and tracking technologies, are under explored and further work should be undertaken. In the meantime, urgent action is required by other Directorates, to ensure European technology of political control does not get into the hands of tyrannical and repressive regimes, as it so often does today. Members of the Committee are requested to consider the policy recommendations provided in the report as just a first step to help bring the technology of political control, back under democratic control.


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