Transnational corporations are winning millions of euros of public research funds to develop ever more intrusive surveillance and snooping technologies, a new report by Statewatch and the Transnational Institute reveals today.
The report, Market Forces, shows how the EU’s €1.7 billion ‘Secure societies’ research programme has been shaped by the “homeland security” industry and in the process is constructing an ever more militarised and security-focused Europe.
The research programme, in place since 2007, has sought to combat a panoply of “threats” ranging from terrorism and organised criminality to irregular migration and petty crime through the development of new “homeland security” technologies such as automated behaviour analysis tools, enhanced video and data surveillance, and biometric identification systems.
Key beneficiaries of this research funding have been companies: #Thales (€33.1m), #Selex (€23.2m), #Airbus (€17.8m), #Atos (€14.1m) and #Indra (€12.3m are the five biggest corporate recipients. Major applied research institutes have also received massive amounts of funding, the top five being: #Fraunhofer_Institute (€65.7 million); #TNO (€33.5 million); #Swedish_Defence_Research_Institute (€33.4 million); #Commissariat_à_l'énergie_atomique_et_aux_énergies_alternatives (€22.1 million); #Austrian_Intstitute_of_Technology (€16 million).
Many of these organisations and their lobbies have played a significant role in designing the research programme through their participation in high-level public-private forums, European Commission advisory groups and through lobbying undertaken by industry groups such as the European Organisation for Security (#EOS).
The report also examines EU’s €3.8 billion #Internal_Security_Fund, which provides funding to Member States to acquire new tools and technologies: border control #drones and surveillance systems, #IMSI catchers for spying on mobile phones, tools for monitoring the web and ‘pre-crime’ predictive policing systems are currently on the agenda.
It is foreseen that the fund will eventually pay for technologies developed through the security research programme, creating a closed loop of supply and demand between private companies and state authorities.
Despite the ongoing economic crisis, EU funding for new security tools and technologies has grown from under €4 billion to almost €8 billion in the 2014-20 period (compared to 2007-13) and the report warns that there is a risk of further empowering illiberal tendencies in EU governments that have taken unprecedented steps in recent years towards normalising emergency powers and undermining human rights protection in the name of fighting terrorism and providing “security”.
Market Forces argues that upcoming negotiations on the next round of funding programmes (2021-27) provide a significant opportunity to reform the rationale and reasoning behind the EU’s development of new security technologies and its funding of tools and equipment for national authorities.