The EU is providing yet more R&D subsidies for the Israeli security-industrial complex, this time for a €15 million project entitled “Total Airport Security System” (the EC contribution is €9 million).

The Verint-led consortium promises to deliver  “multisource labyrinth fusion logic enabling situational and security awareness of the airport anytime and anywhere” (or, in other words, “total surveillance”).

According to the project synopsis:

“TASS is a multi-segment, multi-level intelligence and surveillance system, aimed at creating an entire airport security monitoring solution providing real-time accurate situational awareness to airport authorities.

The TASS concept is based on integrating different types of selected real time sensors & sub-systems for data collection in a variety of modes, including fixed and mobile, all suitable for operation under any environmental conditions. TASS divides the airport security into six security control segments (environmental, cargo, people, airplanes, vehicle-fleet & facilities) each of them being monitored by various technologies that are fused together, creating a multisource labyrinth fusion logic enabling situational and security awareness of the airport anytime and anywhere. These fused control segments will be accessed through the TASS WEB-based portal by running a suite of applications making the airport security control centralized to all airport authorities. Information will be shared and synchronized between all of them in order to generate a comprehensive, real time, security overview for the airport C2, providing all the necessary features to assure a total no breach security environment. The integration will include the use of in-place technologies that will result in a cost-effective solution.

The TASS consortium consists of 3 main end users representing 16 airports and 16 technological partners, which bring together European SME s, industrial and academic partners, ranging from sensor design and electronic communications through to civil airport protection. The technologies will be tested at 3 airports including the hub airport Heathrow, an Israeli domestic airport and Athens airport, in order to cover a wide range of needs at different levels of airport protection. The main test at Heathrow airport will involve scenarios including 2 connected to the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London ultimately resulting in a high & smooth passengers flow”.

In addition to Verint, the TASS consortium includes Elbit Systems Israel, the Israel Airports Authority and Ernst & Young Israel. Other consortium particpants include BAE systems, BAA (the British Airport’s Authority) and technology providers Rapiscan, Alcatel and Skysoft.

However, not everyone is happy about the amount of funds that the EU is providing to Israel for “security research” purposes (see “Should the EU subsidise Israeli security?” and “EU must end funding of Israeli military research“).

And as anyone who has ever passed through an Israeli airport on their way to the Occupied Territories might well ask, should we really be looking to Israel as a model for European security?

Human Recognition Systems (“the UK’s leading independent identity management and biometric specialists”) has entered into partnership with defence giant Thales and the UK Home Office to find “the airport security technology of the future” (a.k.a. INSTINCT-Technology Demonstrator 2).

INSTINCT-TD2 is described as “a government initiative to discover, trial and showcase emergent airport security technologies, solutions and ideas” (see HRS press release).

UK Security Minister Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones says: “The threat to our security is real and is evolving, and technology can play a key role in reducing that threat. This project shows how the Government is working with industry to find those innovative and emerging technologies.”

As are governments everywhere…


Transport Security Expo 2010 takes place in London next week, on 15-16 September, showcasing “a range of the innovative solutions for the Transportation Security arena”, including:

- Systems Integration
- Access Control & Biometric Solutions
- Blast Containment
- CCTV & Monitoring
- Explosive Detection
- RFID / Tracking
- Cargo Screening
- Seals / Tamper Evident Solutions
- Perimeter Security and Intrusion Detection
- Training & Consultancy Services
- Baggage Screening
- Passenger Screening
- Physical Security

The conference includes over 30 Workshop Sessions on ‘Securing Cargo’, ‘Perimeter Security’,  ‘Passenger Security’ and ‘Terminal Security’. Click here to view the full workshop programme.

The EU is also holding its annual security research conference this month, from 22-24 September in Ostend, see conference website.

SCR ’10 is focussed on the EU’s R&D programme (the security research component of FP7) and includes plenary sessions on “Halfway through FP7″,  “After Lisbon: The continuum of internal and external security” and “Security as a pre-requisite for prosperity”.

In addition, there are dedicated sessions on Maritime Security, Standardisation, CBRN, Cybersecurity, Transport Security, Security of the Citizens (sic), Security of Infrastructures, Restoring Security, Improving Security, Security and Society and the coordination of EU Security Research.

As with the Berlin security research conference, “ethics and justice” are squeezed into a single session (on Security and Society). The words privacy, human rights, governance and accountability do not appear anywhere in the conference programme.

The conference also includes a “brokerage event” and exhibition to “facilitate networking between companies, scientific experts, operators and policy makers”. More than one thousand participants are expected.

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) and the European Commission are co-organising a one and a half-day briefing tackling the “current state of play on security research, its challenges and its opportunities in the future”.

The fifth German Security Research conference, organised by the Fraunhofer Group for Defence and Security, is under way in Berlin, see conference website and programme (pdf).

The eight conference sessions cover Security of Transport Systems, Building Protection, Surveillance and Control (2 sessions), Security-Related Legal and Ethical Principles, Detection of Hazardous Materials (2 sessions), Protection of Supply Networks and Security of Communication Networks.

While the inclusion of a session on legal and ethical principles is a welcome addition to the overwhelming focus on security technology, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that society should be (re-)oriented toward “future security”, and not the other way around.

DETECTER is a three-year, university-led project that aims to co-ordinate and contribute work on detection technologies, counter-terrorism, ethics and human rights. It is funded under the security research component of the Fp7 programme. Representatives of the project have been speaking to the BBC:

The DETECTER project is certainly a most welcome initiative. But in the face of scores of EU funded-projects that call into question the EU’s commitment to ethical research and human rights, what we’d also like to see is a the creation of a standing committee with a DETECTER-like mandate to evaluate each and every ‘security research’ proposal before EU funds are committed.

This would see crucial legal and ethical issues take centre stage of the EU security research programme, instead of being bolted on as an afterthought as they have been in FP7.

For more information on DETECTER see the project website and blog.

The production of extravagant PR material is always a good indication that government agencies or public bodies have been given too much money. This is the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from “No, you can’t”, the short film that now greets visitors to the European Commission’s security research website.


“No, you can’t” – EU Security Research ‘infomercial’

It’s clearly something to do with preventing lightly armed people with mental illness boarding European aircraft, but is the deranged central character, crude Asian stereotyping and abject lack of meaningful information in this ‘infomercial’ meant to convey a deeper message about the European Union? Barrack Obama said “yes, we can”, the European Commission says “no, you can’t”. Speaks for itself really.

Regardless of message or metaphor, how anyone thought this was a justifiable use of public funds beggars belief. You’d have thought the Commission might have learned a few lessons from the frankly even more embarrassing INDECT video and the ridicule it invited.

Statement from ACLU dated 4 January 2010

NEW YORK – The Obama administration announced Sunday it will subject the citizens of 14 nations who are flying to the United States to intensified screening at airports, including being subjected to full-body pat downs or body scanners. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the government should adhere to longstanding standards of individualized suspicion and enact security measures that are the least threatening to civil liberties and are proven to be effective. Racial profiling and untargeted body scanning do not meet those criteria.

“We should be focusing on evidence-based, targeted and narrowly tailored investigations based on individualized suspicion, which would be both more consistent with our values and more effective than diverting resources to a system of mass suspicion,” said Michael German, national security policy counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office and a former FBI agent. “Overbroad policies such as racial profiling and invasive body scanning for all travelers not only violate our rights and values, they also waste valuable resources and divert attention from real threats.”

According to the ACLU, the government’s plan to subject citizens of certain countries to enhanced screenings is bad policy, because there is no way to predict the national origin of a terrorist and many terrorists have come from countries not on the list. For instance, the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid is a British citizen, as were four of the London subway bombers, and in 2005 a Belgian woman launched a suicide attack in Iraq.

“Singling out travelers from a few specified countries for enhanced screening is essentially a pretext for racial profiling, which is ineffective, unconstitutional and violates American values. Empirical studies of terrorists show there is no terrorist profile, and using a profile that doesn’t reflect this reality will only divert resources by having government agents target innocent people,” said German. “Profiling can also be counterproductive by undermining community support for government counterterrorism efforts and creating an injustice that terrorists can exploit to justify further acts of terrorism.”

In addition to racial profiling, some have called for the across-the-board implementation of full body scanners, which present serious threats to personal privacy and are of unclear effectiveness. According to a UK Independent report on Sunday, British officials have already tested the scanners and were not persuaded that they would be effective for stopping terrorist threats to planes. And according to security experts, the explosive device used in the attempted attack on a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day would not have been detected by the body scanners.

“We shouldn’t complacently surrender our rights for a false sense of security, and we should be very leery of being sold a device presented as a cure-all, especially when the evidence shows just the opposite,” added German. “If scanners and other intrusive procedures are used, it should be with their limitations in mind and only when there is reason to believe that an individual poses an increased risk to flight safety, not as blanket measures applied to millions of innocent travelers.”

Airport Exchange 2009

All the usual suspects participated in the the 8th annual ACI EUROPE Security Summit on the theme of “Aviation Security – How Well Does It Work?“, which took place in November 2009. Looking at the list of speakers it’s tempting to pass comment on the recent “screw-up” (to use the words of Barrack Obama), but there’s absolutely nothing funny about the failed Christmas day airline bomb or its likely consequences. Well almost nothing…

New Airport Security Cartoon

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