The NeoConOpticon report uses the idea of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ to explore and conceptualise the inevitable outcome of authoritarian EU approaches to security, risk and public order. The term was first used at the turn of the century by the USA’s Department of Defence as a euphemism for control over all elements of the ‘battlespace’ using land, air, maritime, IT and space-based assets. The doctrine seeks to harness the full capacity of the so-called ‘Revolution in Military Aff airs’ engendered by the revolution in IT. In a domestic security context, Full Spectrum Dominance implies control over a domestic ‘battlespace’: an intensive model of international surveillance and a model of policing based primarily on military force.
The EU has not formally adopted a strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance. Rather, EU policies on a whole host of formerly distinct ‘security’ issues—including policing; counter-terrorism; critical infrastructure protection; border control; crisis management; external security; defence, maritime, and space policy—are converging around two interrelated objectives. The first is the widespread implementation of surveillance technologies and techniques to enhance security, law enforcement and defence capabilities in these core ‘mission areas.’ The second is the drive for ‘interoperability,’ or the integration of surveillance tools with other government information and communications systems so that they may be used for multiple tasks across the spectrum of law enforcement and security. ‘Joined-up surveillance’ for ‘joined-up government’ is another way of describing this trend.
The pursuit of a domestic policy of full spectrum dominance has particularly profound implications for civil liberties, the rule of law and other democratic traditions. Magnus Hörnqvist, a Swedish academic, has described the way in which the rule of law is being eclipsed by the ‘logic of security’. His hypothesis is that it is security and not the law that is now the primary principle from which the use of physical force and other coercive measures can proceed. Within this process “the law has been ruptured in two directions simultaneously: upwards, through the erasure of the line between crimes and acts of war, and downwards, through the erasure of the line between criminal off ences and minor public order disturbances”. In turn, “the law is made superfluous… other methods are required that correspond more closely to military logic: neutralising, knocking out and destroying the enemy”.
The European Security Research Programme is comprised of five key ‘mission areas’: ‘border security’, ‘protection against terrorism and organised crime’, ‘critical infrastructure protection’, ‘restoring security in case of crisis’ and ‘integration, connectivity and interoperability’. For each of these apparently distinct ‘mission areas’, it is observed that the same response is proposed: maximise the use of security technology; use risk assessment and modelling to predict (and mitigate) human behaviour; ensure rapid ‘incident response’; then intervene to neutralise the threat, automatically where possible. The ESRP is also predicated on the need to develop fully ‘interoperable’ security systems so that technological applications being used for one ‘mission’ can easily be used for all the others.
This stuff is discussed further in the report. For latest blog posts see: “securing everything“.