Increased EU behaviour monitoring leads to Orwellian fears

CCTVThe European Union is providing funding for human behaviour-watch programmes in the war against terror, sparking fears that the EU community itself will foster suspicion. Airports are among areas that attract the most suspicion including increased surveillance of bathrooms and express check-ins, as the common belief is that terrorists tend move quickly, need privacy and almost never stop for coffee.

“We monitor all deviant behaviour,” according to the Dutch research institute TNO Defence and Security member Maarten Hogervorst. New technology will also be used to monitor heart rates “because a terrorist is nervous as hell,” according to fellow TNO official Frank Kooi.

TNO is a partner in the ADABTS (Automatic Detection of Abnormal Behaviour and Threats in Crowded Spaces) programme, one of several hundred security projects that operate under the EU Security system. Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, a European-wide directive was issued by Brussels calling for new techniques under fears that the market may be dominated by US security firms.

Hogervorst’s team receives funding from the EU for investigating human behaviour via security cameras in inner cities, airports and football stadiums. “We define what constitutes suspicious behaviour through interviews with security staff and we develop software accordingly,” Hogervorst stated. “If security staff think someone moving rapidly through a crowd is suspicious, then that’s the kind of images they’re going to get”.

However, in a report by Danish newspaper Politiken, a spokesperson for the progressive research group Trans-national International, Ben Hayes, warned that the increased security may lead to Orwellian tactics which could make everyone a suspect. The concern is that increased awareness of the technology will lead to changes in human behaviour and that big brother tactics will create a loss of innocence as the public evolves its common actions to appear less suspicious.

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