November 2009

If other states continue to follow the USA’s lead when it comes to military procurement, then UAVs/drone planes have a big future in Europe. According to an ‘op-ed’  by Roger Cohen in the New York times:

When the United States went into Iraq in 2003, it had a handful of pilotless planes, or drones; it now has over 7,000. The invasion force had no unmanned ground vehicles; the U.S. armed forces now employ more than 12,000.

The use of drones has also increased markedly under Obama’s presidency:

Since taking office, President Obama has shown a quiet predilection for drone warfare. He’s been vacuuming up targets. There are two programs in operation: a publicly acknowledged military one in Iraq and Afghanistan and a covert C.I.A. program targeting terror suspects in countries including Pakistan…

Obama has authorized as many drone strikes in Pakistan in nine and a half months as George W. Bush did in his last three years in office — at least 41 C.I.A. missile strikes, or about one a week, that may have killed more than 500 people.

Read the full article.

One of the criticisms levelled at the NeoConOpticon report was that it “exaggerated” the likelihood that the security technologies being pursued under the EU’s R&D programme would ever be implemented. “Many projects will fall by the leeway”, suggested one security expert. Of course, but I can’t help thinking that there’s a lot of mileage in the numerous UAV projects funded to date.

For more on UAV’s check out the website of the New American Foundation, referred to in the NY Times article: drones.

The European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) reports that RapidEye, “the only geospatial solutions provider to own and operate a constellation of five identical Earth Observation satellites”, has signed a framework agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA) to provide “satellite imagery for monitoring and change detection in areas prone to natural disasters”.



SAMURAI is a 2.5 million Euro FP7 security research project that aims to “develop and integrate an innovative intelligent surveillance system for robust monitoring of both inside and surrounding areas of a critical public infrastructure”.

SAMURAI will develop a “real-time adaptive behaviour profiling and abnormality detection system for alarm event alert and prediction with much reduced false operators and mobile sensory input for patrolling security staff for a hybrid context-aware based abnornal behaviour recognition”.

A workshop on “User Requirements for Intelligent Video Systems” was held in London last week, see program. See also SAMURAI project website.

While governments are dragging their feet when it comes to agreeing targets to cut carbon emissions, a ‘consensus’ is emerging around the need to prepare militarily for the adverse effects of climate change (meaning the adverse impact on western interests and not necessarily the environmental catastrophe itself). Vice Admiral Lee Gunn (retired) is the latest voice to call for military preparations for climate change, following the likes of NATOand Javier Solana. Read his article here:

Gunn’s recommendations to the US government include:

Invest in capabilities within the U.S. government (including the Defense Department) to manage the humanitarian crises–such as a new flow of “climate refugees”–that may accompany climate change and subsequently overwhelm local governments and threaten critical U.S. interests.

Controlling and restricting the movements of the world’s poorest inhabitants is already a central tenet of globalisation. Putting ‘climate refugees’ in the sights of the world’s military is another damning indictment of the ‘international community’.

FRONTEX’ role in policing the EU’s external borders and the open seas beyond is well known. As reported last week, the agency has just been given the nod to implement long standing plans for joint expulsions by charter flight. What people seem much less aware of is that FRONTEX also has a significant internal policing mandate and will, if all goes according to current plans, soon preside over one of the world’s most extensive surveillance systems. This will be achieved through these interlinking of several existing EU databases and police communications systems and the creation of two new overarching surveillance frameworks (EUROSUR and EU entry-exit).



Source: FRONTEX R&D Unit: Automated Border Control Systems: State of the Art in Europe: abc_monica_gariup.pdf

Further reading: NeoConOpticon report pp.33-41



The 5th EBF Seminar on Entry/Exit took place on 4 November 2009. Speakers included the European Commission (large-scale IT systems Unit, JLS) EC, Interpol, Frontex, US department of Homeland Security, EDPS, Sagem, Accenture, UK Home Office and EU JRC. Click here for the full agenda. Presentations (from EBF website):

  • Dr. Frank Paul EU Commission – Unit Large Scale Information Systems DG JLS presented on “European Entry-Exit: challenges and opportunities”  (Opening Keynote). Click here for Frank Paul’s presentation.
  • Mr. Ralph Markert, Assistant Director at Interpol spoke on “Global Security Initiatives”. Click here for Ralph Markert’s presentation
  • Ms. Monica Gariup, Research Officer at Frontex (EU Border Management Agency) presented on “Requirements for harmonized European Border Control management”. Click here for Monica Gariup’s presentation
  • Mr. Satko Mujagic from the Dutch Ministry of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service (Advisor at Staff Directorate for Implementation and Policy) presented on “Policy to support transgovernmental partnerships”. Click here for Satkko Mujagic’s presenatation
  • Mr. Clive Bourke from Daon, (Vice President, Asia Pacific) presented a “Case Study: Overview of Border security systems incorporating Australia and Japan”. Click here for Clive Bourke’s presentation
  • Ms. Benedicte Havelange European Data Protection Supervisor, Legal Advisor gave a presentation entitled “How do we protect our citizens?”. Click here for Benedicte Havelange’s presentation.
  • Mr. Thomas Marten from SITA (Vice President Government and Security Solutions) gave a “Global perspective on identity management”. Click here for Thomas Marten’s presentation
  • Mr. Nicholas Delvaux from Sagem Sécurité, Program Manager, European Programs spoke on ‘Border Control on the Fly’. Click here for Nicholas Delvaux’s presentation
  • Mr. Marek Rejman-Greene, UK Home Office (Senior Biometrics Advisor for the UK Home Office’s Scientific Development branch; head of  the  Biometrics Centre of Expertise) presented on ‘Towards best practice in biometric enrolments’. Click here for Marek Rejman-Greene’s presentation
  • Mr. Gûnter Schumacher from the EU Joint Research Centre, Institute for Protection and Security of the Citizen presented on ‘Ongoing Research Challenges’. Click here for Gûnter Schumacher’s presentation

Yet another EU funded initiative, this time under FP7’s Competitiveness and Innovation Programme. The STORK Project on “Secure idenTity acrOss boRders” will cost approximately 20 million Euros over three years, of which 50% will be funded by the European Commission.

According to the project website, the STORK project will make it easier for citizens and businesses to access online public services across borders by developing and testing common specifications for mutual recognition of national electronic identity (eID) between participating countries. It will do so by:

  • Developing common rules and specifications to assist mutual recognition of eIDs across national borders;
  • Testing, in real life environments, secure and easy-to-use eID solutions for citizens and businesses;
  • Interacting with other EU initiatives to maximise the usefulness of eID services.

STORK will focus on pragmatic eID interoperability solutions, implementing several pilot cross-border eID services chosen for their high impact on everyday life.

Maybe i’m missing something but why would I want to “access online public services across borders” and how will an “e-ID” help me?

The EU has apparently funded a new “Thematic Network on Biometric Technologies” under the ICT Policy Support Programme of FP7. The BEST (Biometrics European Stakeholders) Network aims to ensure “consensus-building and experience sharing” around the deployment of biometric ID systems. The BEST network includes 40 partner organisations, described as:
  • Government representatives
  • Academic researchers
  • Test laboratories
  • Research institutes
  • Consultancies
  • End user organisations
  • Biometrics industry representatives: suppliers & integrators

Privacy and data protection experts need not apply, it appears. You can read more about the network in these two presentations:

  • European Biometrics Forum: BEST (Biometrics European Stakeholders Network): best_standard.pdf
  • Biometrics in Europe: From Research and Implementation to BEST Practice: presentation

Looking out for you: the BEST consortiumBESTnetwork

Frontex’ Research and Development Unit and the Swedish Presidency of the EU organized  a conference on “Biometric Technology for Border Control” (with industry exhibition) in Warsaw on 1-2 October. Topics discussed included European Commission initiatives, standards and guidelines, automated border control systems, mobile equipment, and issues such as security, data protection, costs and funding (see programme).

Presentations (from FRONTEX website):

  • European Biometrics Forum: BEST (Biometrics European Stakeholders Network): best_standard.pdf
  • German Federal office for Information Security: Technical Guideline Biometrics in Public Sector Applications: bsi.pdf
  • European Committee for Standardisation: The European Standardisation process cen.pdf
  • National centre for Information Technology in Public Administration (CNIPA, Italy): Technical and operational Challenges : cnipa.pdf
  • German Federal office for Information Security: The EasyPASS pilot project at Frankfurt Airport: easypass.pdf
  • European Biometrics Forum: Testing & Certification of biometrics components and systems: ebf.pdf
  • European Data Protection Supervisor: Biometrics for border control and data protection: edps.pdf
  • International Civil Aviation Authority: The use of biometrics to enhance Border Control & Security: icao_mrtd.pdf
  • European Commission DG for Justice, Liberty & Security: The policy of Biometric Technology for Border Control: jls-european_view.pdf
  • European Commission Joint Research Centre: MOBIDIG: The European ‘Mobile ID’ initiative Working Group: Electronic identity documents and management for mobile environments: A way forward to meet the upcoming European challenges: mobidig.pdf
  • French border Police: National Automated Border Crossing System (PARAFES): parafes.pdf
  • UK Border Police: automated border crossing… secure border crossing?: ukba.pdf

A quick glance confirms that having mandated biometrics ID systems for border controls, the EU clearly has no intention of limiting their use to checks at the EU’s borders (see in particular “mobile biometric checks”). reports that the outgoing chairman of the European Union Military Committee wants more assets to combat piracy in the Somali basin because of the vast area that needs to be covered.

“The EU has committed three or four frigates, in 2010 but we probably need between six and 10 to cover that vast area,” Gen. Henri Bentegeat said at a news conference following a meeting of the EU Chairs of Defense Staff (CHODs). He insisted that there was coordination between the EU and NATO naval assets in the area and “certainly no duplication.”

See also EU NAVFOR mission website and Maritime Security Centre website.

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