News from various sources has revealed that the United State, the European Union and the United Kingdom are all preparing to invest further large sums in advanced biometrics and surveillance research.
According to an anonymous message to Slashdot, in the USA, Department of Justice requisitions for the coming year show “$233.9 million in funding for an ‘Advanced Electronic Surveillance’ project, and $97.6 million to establish the ‘Biometric Technology Center.'” The former is largely to deal with the problems of intercepting Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications – like Skype. The latter is what Slashdot calls a “vast database of personal data including fingerprints, iris scans and DNA which the FBI calls the Next Generation Identification” for the FBI. In other words, the architecture of the proposed ‘Server in the Sky’ system, which The Guardian revealed last year – for some notes on this and other systems under development, see here.
Meanwhile Owen Bowcott in The Guardian today has a story which puts together various bits and pieces from the EU’s FP7 Security theme research budget and UK security investment. In the UK, there is to be £15 million spent on updating UK biometric security for embassies, and more interestingly other unspecified ‘surveillance’ purposes, and in addition, rolling out of facial recognition systems to more UK airports. As we know, the controlled environments of airports where people are required to look at cameras, are one of the few place where this technology works properly.
This provides a rather tenuous link to the headline of the Guardian story which is an EU-funded study into brain-scanning (yet again) called Humabio (Human Monitoring and Authentication using Biodynamic Indicators and Behaviourial Analysis). There are lots of these about, and one of them may work sooner or later, but it is worth pointing out that people have been putting out ‘we will soon have brain scanning’ stories since the 1980s and like, nuclear fusion, it always seems to be 5 or 10 years in the future. Brain-scanning seems to be the technology of the future… always has been, always will be?