Border Security Market estimated at $16Bn

A marketing consultancy has estimated that the global border security market, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) and perimeter surveillance is due to hit $15.8bn in 2010. Without any sense of irony whatsoever, the company calls the border security market “one of the most exciting emerging markets within the global defence and security marketplace.”

They ask questions like:

“Which regional border security marketplaces offer the most significant growth opportunities? What are the prospects for European and North American defence and security companies seeking business opportunities in the Middle East? How is spending on different types of border security technology likely to be affected as government budgets come under intense pressure? What is the status of the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) or ‘virtual fence’ along the US-Mexico border? To what extent is public opinion driving government policy on border security? What effect is the economic downturn having on illegal immigration?”

To know their answers to these questions though, you’ll have to pay £1499.00 (or $2,418.00 US)! Clearly they believe that the market for reports on border security is also pretty ‘exciting’…

Top Secret America

Top Secret America is a really excellent project from The Washington Post with some excellent articles and classy and educative graphics. It traces the huge current US security-intelligence complex, and is partituclarly interesting for noting the massive private sector involvement. This isn’t actually entirely new – private technology companies have been intimately involved in both the manufacture and the servicing and operation of intelligence for a long time – look at the example of RCA and the early history of the National Security Association, for example. However, this blurring of the boundary between state and private sector now goes much further into the operations of intelligence. The Post alleges that “out of 854,000 people with top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors.” That’s almost a third. And the database of companies involved is enormous – nearly 2000. The searchable database is also going to be very helpful in our current work at the Surveillance Studies Centre on the involvment of private companies in Canadian border control!

PS: I should be back up and posting regularly now. I’ve had one of my occasional anti-blogging periods!

Europe’s new security-industrial complex

neoconopticonThere is a superb and chilling new report out today that utterly demolishes the European Union’s claims to be in any way an  ethical or progressive leader on issues of security and surveillance. The report written by Ben Hayes for the Transantional Institute and Statewatch, documents in some detail the new vision for security in the EU, which the authors describe as a ‘neo-con-opticon.’ The report confirms a lot of things that have been concerning me about the direction and emphasis of EU security research and the increasingly unnacountable and behind closed-doors ways in which security policy is being developed. I asked back in January in an editorial in Surveillance & Society whether surveillance was becoming the new ‘baroque arsenal’, Mary Kaldor’s famous phrase to describe the huge, intricate and complex technocentric security structures of the second Cold War. This report answers that question with a resounding ‘yes’.

The press release quotes from the introduction:

“Despite the often benign intent behind collaborative European research into integrated land, air, maritime, space and cyber-surveillance systems, the EU’s security and R&D policy is coalescing around a high-tech blueprint for a new kind of security. It envisages a future world of red zones and green zones; external borders controlled by military force and internally by a sprawling network of physical and virtual security checkpoints; public spaces, micro-states and mega events policed by high-tech surveillance systems and rapid reaction forces; peacekeeping and crisis management missions that make no operational distinction between the suburbs of Basra or the Banlieue; and the increasing integration of defence and national security functions at home and abroad.

It is not just a case of sleepwalking into or waking up to a surveillance society, as the UK’s Information Commissioner famously warned, it feels more like turning a blind eye to the start of a new kind of arms race, one in which all the weapons are pointing inwards. Welcome to the NeoConOpticon.”

But don’t stop there. You can (well, you must) read the full report here: NeoConOpticon – The EU Security-Industrial Complex

And whilst you are at it, download Tony Bunyan’s equally superb report, The Shape of Things to Come – the EU Future Group, on the EU’s thoroughly undemocratic attempt to bypass public debate and hand internal security and surveillance policy over to the transnational security companies and the police and intelligence services.

(thanks to Rosamunde van Brakel for passing this on)