Sylvia Johnigk, Kai Nothdurft
Discourse on EU research project INDECT
FIfF in dispute with project members
Maybe the ongoing criticism in the public becomes effective on INDECT project members. The formation of the ethical board members and some important project results (deliveries) have recently been published. Perhaps this is partly a success of the FIfF campaign against the project.
On December 29th 2010 Sylvia Johnigk held a talk at 27C3, the annual meeting of the Chaos Computer Club about „The INDECT–Project or … how the EU cultivates surveillance techniques”1. The talk criticized the project for developing surveillance techniques. After the talk a person entered the stage, introducing himself as Jan Derkack, member of the project team. He claimed many statements of the talk to be wrong. Afterwards an agitated discussion with the audience started. Later on the discussion was continued in a smaller circle including Derkacz, Sylvia Johnigk and Kai Nothdurft next to the stage. We agreed with Jan Derkacz on continuing the discussion. Some weeks later he wrote us an elaborated email, demanding us to publish a revisement of the statements. We are publishing his email here (Derkacz mail and attachment) as demanded but we want to respond to him in the manner of an academic discourse.
Jan Derkacz argues in his email that the the 27C3 talk charged the INDECT project for performing video recordings of citizens without their consent but he also was filmed against his consent and demanded us to declaire what we think of this.
To a certain degree we can empathize the unpleasing feeling that arises when you become recorded. We see a difference between a surveillance camera (CCTV) and your experience in the intention of the recording as well as the intention of the subject of recording. The recordings on the congress are used for a public documentation of the talks and the discussions. Those are made in and intended for the public. If someone decides to actively take part of the discussions he has to take the consequence being filmed. The video recording and live streaming of almost any congress talk is practiced since many years and this should be general knowledge. Therefore taking part actively in a discussion on the congress should be more or less a conscious decision to accept this. We think that it was even your intention to bring your opinion and statements to the public, to make your critics against the talk publicly available. It would have been even possible to publish your point of view in an anonymous way, not mentioning your name or hiding your face e.g. by sunglasses.
If you compare the setting on the congress to a demonstration on the street where the police is taking video recording from the participants this would be a recording without consent, leading to intimidation and deterring people to freely demonstrate. If one of the demonstrators enters a podium to talk to the participants and gets filmed by e.g. a television team and the recording is broadcasted on TV he probably gives his consent to this, he explicitly wants to get his talk being published,
As a normal participant on the congress one can take part anonymously and will not be filmed at all. Not until entering the stage after the talk and putting yourself into the central interest of the discussion you triggered the cameras recording you and publishing the material to the internet.
You blame us acting unethical by consciously broadcasting untrue information
You mention in your mail a repetition of wrong statements on an event in Brussel. Your „corrective“ email reached us in February. In this mail you referred to the event in Brussel. Until that we only got some statements from you given in the discussion on the congress. Those only where spoken statements without any proof or good argumentation for us. Furthermore the statements in Brussel had not been issued by us. We assume that our slides and folders, published under the creative commons license have been used by third parties there. Beside this we still (also after analyzing your mail) think, most of our statements are correct beside of the following restrictions:
In the talk we could have better distinct between the INDECT project itself and the results of the research done by the project in a later usage (technology consequences). Our organisation thinks that this distinction is an artificial, theoretical construction, a persnicketiness used for denying the accountability of a researcher for the results of his work. We think that a researcher is always accountable for what he is inventing and developing (to a certain degree). We explicitly want to consider both aspects together as a whole. Nevertheless we can and will distinguish the one from the other in a more precise way in future (and we already did so in another talk held some weeks ago).
You explain that our statement the project develops an EU Trojan horse is caused by a misunderstanding.
Your explanation on this seems to be plausible and reliable for us and therefore we accept your critics on this specific topic. In future we will not mention this any more. Our influence on correcting already published information is restricted but we will publish this correction on our website.
On the already mentioned talk some weeks ago we did not use the statement any more and also deleted the statement from a printed flyer we gave to the audience.
You maintained that the essential documents of project results had been published contrary to our statement.
We think you already contradicted this in the discussion on the congress. Indirectly you admitted that not all documents had been published but just those which should be.
We keep our statement: Some documents we think being relevant had not been published. In some published documents we found pages left out (according to page numbers). Some published material had been subducted (e.g. ethical guideline which was republished later again). An already published INDECT advertisement video2 was deleted.
In the meantime an (for our point of view) essential document dealing with the modeling of abnorm behavior and auto detection of crime has been published.3 This happened after we stated on the congress in December 2010 that some documents had not been published. This document is dated from June 23rd 2010 should have been available at December therefore.
Other documents dealing wit the model of abnormal behavior that had been published already at that time did not really match on the official project objectives. We concluded that essential documents had not been published at that time, which was correct, as proved by the example before.
You say: „
„Exemptions to public disclosure consider cases which contain financial statements or could impact negatively on law enforcement capabilities or business competitiveness. FP7 Security Programmme 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.“
This means that „only“ content with financial and business secrets or content harming police power would not be published. We think this is already a critical and criticizable intransparency:
Financial information: For transparency reasons and for binding the budget to the purposes it was given for is a need for money raised from taxes by the citizens of the European countries. Therefore also financial data has to be published unless it is specific sensitive information like bank account numbers or person related information. Despite this it is preferable to clarify publicly for whom and what public money is spent especially which project partners get what amount.
Business secrets: Why should particular business interests of a few selected companies should be conveyed with public money? Why should a few companies be able to gain commercial advantages from something that is financed by the community of all citizens?
Weakening operational police work: Only person related information of the operational data has to be removed. Information from ongoing investigations must not be used in the project anyway. Beside this there seems to be a contradiction in your argumentation. How can operational police work be weakened by publishing information if the INDECT project is doing research on prototypes only and the later usage of possibly results has nothing to do with the INDECT project itself? If operational police work is weakened INDECT is not a research but a developing project for real future use cases and the expected results have to be evaluated even more critical against their potential risks on society and democracy.
You affirmed the independency of the Ethic Commission of the project what we disbelieve. In the discussion on the congress you contended that the members of the Commission are not kept secret as we stated.
In December 2010 the complete list of members was still a secret, just a few members where known in the public. Meanwhile the names have been published (see below). The mystery mongering of the project led to rumors/wild guesses caused by the project itself. The publicly available information let to the conclusion, that the commission was officially controlled by Zulema Rosborough, assistant of the commissions head Drew Harris. Many more questions came up: What is the motivation to keep he names secret? Are there more skeletons in the closet with a need to be hided? In the past often executives told privacy activist: nothing to hide? Than you have, nothing to be scared of with surveillance.
In your mail you mentioned further functions of members („a professor of ethics“) without giving any details like names. Furthermore those still were not privacy nor civil rights specialists. You mentioned the polish privacy officer but he was not a member of the commission. Seems that he had checked the project itself (not the project results!) on being in line with privacy law in the beginning. An ongoing control during the project is another story. Why did the project denied the quest for information on board members of the EU Parliament? How does the project assure an independent control on the project results? Even if we would agree on the argumentation above for restricting public access to results there is still a need for the public to have an independent control body. We think we explained in detail why the allocation of commission members does not fulfill this requirement (even in the latest published version). The secretiveness o members of the commission disqualifies it for its role as a control body. Furthermore the official reasons for not publishing the members did not match the argumentation on reasons for secrecy in the project, mentioned in your mail.
In the meanwhile (all?) members of the Ethical Commission have been published4, perhaps also as a consequence of critical discourse in the public (last but not least our campaign):
Drew Harris, PSNI Assistant Chief, Police
Dobrosław Kot, External Doctor of Philosophy
Emil Pływaczewski, External Academia, Professor of Law
Andreas Pongratz X-Art Industry, Head of the company
Tom Sorell, External Professor of Ethics
Ralph Roche, PSNI Human Rights Lawyer
Zulema Rosborough PSNI Police Officer 8 Mariusz Ziółko AGH Researcher in the domain of security-related technologies
Until Sep. 2010 neither civil rights activists nor privacy officers are members of the Ethics Board.
This is definitively NOT true!
Even looking at the above list we have to state: There is still no NGO member nor a privacy expert in the list. Therefore we disbelieve, the commission is able to evaluate social, democratic an privacy related effects of the projects research results in a later usage in European society.
Even worse there is just one independent member (as far as we see) which is not also involved in the projects work itself (Prof. Sorell). Last but not least the commission does not have the mission to evaluate the projects result on compliance with ethical basics but its mission is limited to look at a compliance of the projects procedures while running what should be a matter of course.
You criticise our statement, that INDECT research creates a mighty instrument for surveillance:
„Partners are developing an infrastructure for linking existing surveillance technologies to form one mighty instrument for controlling the people. This is definetly not true....“
We ask you: What is wrong with that statement, perhaps that the technology is not mighty? Is a CCTV camera no surveillance infrastructure? Or are you just researching on theoretical things without any practical use? Do you disagree that surveillance techniques do have effects helping to control people?
No, you are arguing against our statement again because of a different point of relation context. We do not look at INDECT on his own as an isolated project without any effect on reality around. We think of the technologies, INDECT researches lead to, of the results of your work in a later practical use context. We discuss the effects of projects research results in use. We can mention that explicitly in future if it was really misleading.
You say that contrary to our statement there is no plan to test INDECT during EU Football Championship in 2012:
Our statement was based on the following information, we derived from public sources:
The INDECT project asked for a permission to perform tests in a stadium.1
For what reason has the project asked for the permit and taking the effort if there was no plan to use it?
There was a public announcement of Andrzej Czyżewski2 in an interview and we found several press releases on this topic.3. Even on the projects website itself the request for the permit was mentioned. Misunderstandings (if their are really any) are caused by the projects public relations itself, are n´t they?
Can you confirm, that the project decided to forbear from performing the tests over the whole runtime of the project? And again what about the later usage of the technology, which is more interesting than the usage during the projects runtime itself.
What are these scenarios in detail (like automated detection of violence in stadiums, which well aware are taken into consideration as you say) and that are over interpretated by us in your words? Even the projects answers to questions of the EU parliament leaved a lot of space for rumors and speculation.4
You say, no real life tests are performed without the written consent of the individuals (in the context of Olympic Games in London).
We derived our information from an article from SPIEGEL-Online dated from January 24th 2010 titled „Britische Polizei will Bürger mit Drohnen überwachen“,5 If the information in the article is not true, please ask the SPIEGEL to give an adjustment and publish it. Our critics on legal aspects again is on the later usage in comparable environments not during the projects runtime. How will you get the consent of anybody visiting a big event like the Olympic Games? (A consent is something given freely not something you are forced to by buying a ticket and accepting general agreements. Here is a something (but just to a certain degree) comparable to what you criticized by mentioning the video recording on the Congress).
You rate our conclusions, that INDECT data will be concatenated or enriched with data from other contexts as ridiculous and incompetent.
Looking into our slides is seems absolutely clear for us, that we are talking about a future forecast and not about the project runtime itself. We are embedding the expected research results into a holistic context of the European research policies which is amongst others the whole FP7 program, which finances INDECT also. Unfortunately it is not possible to foreclose that surveillance technology like the one developed in INDECT project is concatenated with existing or in parallel developed technologies and infrastructures of security authorities. To think so is naive or ridiculous in our opinion.
The project is not an isolated theoretical idea but embedded in a political context (including the finance by taxpayers). So it has to be judged and criticized according to the expected and suspected effects on our society!
3Del 4.3. machine learning methods for behavioural profiling http://www.indect-project.eu/files/deliverables/public/D4.3.pdf/view
2U.a. erwähnt in einer parlamentarischen Anfrage von MdB Andrej Hunko: http://www.andrej-hunko.de/start/downloads/doc_download/40-open-letter-indect S.3 Frage 11. Is it true that INDECT is to be used or tested during the 2012 UEFA cup in Poland, as announced by the INDECT project leader Andrzej Czyżewski in 2008 to German journalists?