Shining the light has hit the mark

It seems that shining the light on the dark and murky waters of the EU Commission’s FP7 research framework projects occasionally has its rewards.

On Oct 12th, I turned the spotlight on a certain Project INDECT, highlighting the dangers that it holds for the public, their rights and liberties and the function creep that this kind of authoritarian project will bring.

Today, there has been an EU Parliamentary declaration, reaffirming the fears that I indicated, and calling on the EU Commission to throw open the INDECT files.

Here is the text of that Declaration.

WRITTEN DECLARATION
pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure
on INDECT (intelligent information system supporting observation, searching
and detection for security of citizens in urban environment)
Alexander ALVARO, Carlos COELHO, Stavros LAMBRINIDIS, Judith
SARGENTINI, Rui TAVARES

Written declaration on INDECT (intelligent information system supporting observation,
searching and detection for security of citizens in urban environment)
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas INDECT is a research project with the aim of developing an automated observation system that constantly monitors web sites, surveillance cameras and individual computer systems to develop a new type of search engine combining direct search of images and video based contents,
B. whereas the INDECT Ethics Board, responsible for dealing with potential ethical problems, has decided that information that may have negative impact on the reputation of the research project should be kept confidential,
C. whereas INDECT is funded by the 7th FWP, receiving 10.91 million EUR within the time period 2009-2013,
D. whereas the Parliament and the Council establish the Union’s annual budget as well as the measures necessary for the implementation of the European research area,
E. whereas the Commission is obliged to regularly report the results of the monitoring of the 7th FWP and its specific programmes to the Parliament,
1. Emphasizes its commitment to safeguard civil liberties of the European citizens;
2. Expresses concern about function creep, the possible impact on fundamental rights and the danger that researched technologies, respectively collected information are used by public actors or third parties;
3. Strongly urges the Commission to immediately make all documents related to INDECT available and to define a clear and strict mandate for the research goal, the application and the end users of INDECT;
4. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories to Commission and Council.

Only time will tell as to how successful this is likely to be, but I will continue to shine the light where the EU doesn’t want the sun shining.

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About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
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8 Responses to Shining the light has hit the mark

  1. Majority of project Deliverables are published on the project web page (http://www.indect-project.eu/public-deliverables). INDECT only does not publish internal financial bookkeeping reports, documents containing information affecting commercial competitiveness of project companies or documents allowing people to prepare handbooks for criminals, supporting them to work-around police operations.
    On the other hand, please note that all reports are still accessible by the European Commission. The EC recruit external, independent experts (in scientific and ethical review panels) that periodically review the INDECT project.

    • I have already published that list of ‘public’ deliverables, which is only a fraction of the overall deliverables.

      The concerns of the EU Parliamentarians who signed this document is not that the EU Commission have access to this project, but that they as parliamentarians do not.

      They are further concerned that it is the minutes and conclusions of the Ethics Board which are specifically withheld, and are concerned that they are hiding parts of the project which may show the project in a bad light, thereby avoiding scrutiny.

      If this, or any other project is to fully comply with meeting the commitment to safeguard civil liberties of the European citizens, it must be open to scrutiny and remain transparent.

      • What kind of evidence you have for saying that ‘public’ deliverables are only a fraction of the overall deliverables?
        The policy the Ethics Board has, is actually absolutely in line of the regular ways that all the projects funded under FP7 (Framework Programme 7) follow while publishing reports.
        For all these projects, and their reports, there are dissemination levels that are indicated by one of the following codes (this is public information you can find on the FP7 Web pages):
        – PU = Public
        – PP = Restricted to other programme participants (including the Commission Services).
        – RE = Restricted to a group specified by the consortium (including the Commission Services).
        – CO = Confidential, only for members of the consortium (including the Commission Services).
        The vast majority of FP7 reports (including INDECT) are “PU”.
        I know some people share the Julian Assange’s (Wikileaks) opinion that virtually everything should be publically available. While I am also in favour of disclosing the BIG affairs, I still understand that some documents simply cannot go public. Business confidential documents… Various state classified documents… Police operational documents… Not only individuals should keep some privacy. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not wise to publish absolutely everything.
        By design of Europen Commission’s Framework Programmes, citizens, including EU Parliamentarians, do not have and probably will not have an access to these, above-mentioned documents.
        The project makes more than average effort in making the information transparent. Project results are presented at conferences. In May this year INDECT organised a two days’ conference where project results were presented in details. A dedicated session to ethical issues and police operations was held.

        • Firstly you must remember that the FP7 framework, and everything that the Commission and the Commission Services do is paid for with taxpayers money.

          Secondly it seems that many need reminding that the EU is NOT a State, therefore it cannot have any State secrets.

          Thirdly, you sound as though you do not trust the elected members of the EU Parliament, that you would seek to stop scrutiny of a taxpayer funded project. Irrespective of the aims of that project.

          It must also be said that Stalin, Hitler, PolPot and even Wojciech Jaruzelski had ‘ethics’, however I can confirm that they were not the same as mine, and in a democratic society it is the elected officials who are the guardians of civilised ethics.

          • Of course FP7 projects are funded from public money, but still, the Intellectual Property rights of INDECT remain however property of the grant holder and cannot be freely used.
            Furthermore, FP7 Security Programme projects do not contain classified information, but publishing police operational documents means making the police weaker what would be against the idea of increasing security.
            I’m fine enough with trusting the European Commission and the recruited external, independent experts to review projects. Security projects deal with research and ethics – let’s leave evaluation to researchers end professors of ethics. In my opinion, the primary role of politicians is to define general objectives for the EC research, including security research.

          • You may be fine leaving it up to the EU Commission and the recruited externals, but I am not, and clearly the written declaration from the parliamentarians shows that they are not either.

            Incidentely, the FP7 framework is an EU Commission initiative, so the politicians have not been the ones who have set the framework, goals or objectives.

            Also I think you will find that under the FP7 framework rules, the IP belongs to the EU, not to the ‘partners’, and the Police operational documents should most certainly receive elected representative scrutiny, to ensure that the civil liberties of the public are properly upheld.

            I know its only been 20 years since Poland valiantly escaped the clutches of communism, but surely the principles of democracy should have sunk in by now despite the best efforts of the unelected Commission to create an EUSSR. It is the elected representatives who scrutinise and make the final decisions, not bureaucrats & aparachnics.

            So, if there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear..

  2. Pingback: Shining the light has hit the mark | The Albion Alliance presents

  3. It seems that my last response somehow disappeared?

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