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by James Corbett
17 January, 2012
With the National Defense Authorization Act, the Enemy Expatriation Act, and other startling measures by the US government to crack down on their own population making headlines around the world at the moment, the idea of an American police state is becoming all too familiar a tale. Less examined, however, are the international aspects of this encroaching police state, a high-tech 21st century control grid which adheres to no national boundaries and whose influence is increasingly being felt in countries throughout the so-called “free world.”
Just as the tracking, surveillance, pain-compliance and database technology behind this control grid is manufactured and marketed by multinational corporations who profess no loyalty to any nation state, so too is the police state itself nothing more than an idea for the consolidation and leveraging of power in the hands of a select few at the apex of business, government and finance. This idea in turn can be marketed, adapted and adopted from nation to nation, and that is the exact process that has been developing for decades now.
Earlier this week I had the chance to talk to Andrew Gavin Marshall, a writer and researcher who has been examining the institutional framework for this consolidation of power, about the international nature of the police state idea, and how it has spread around the globe.
The international nature of the police state is manifested time and again by the implementation of virtually identical technologies, programs or procedures in numerous countries, always presented as if it were a spontaneous development, but often overtly modeled on the example set by other countries or even expressly created through international treaties and agreements.
One example of such coordination is the roll-out of increasingly sophisticated surveillance technology by city governments and police departments around the world for use in monitoring the public. Spearheaded by IT companies like IBM, these advanced systems are marketed as “smart public safety” initiatives and combine traditional surveillance technologies like CCTV cameras with predictive analytics that claim to be able to detect likely criminal actions before they even occur. In 2007, a PC World article noted the deployment of IBM’s S3 surveillance system in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics even as it was being simultaneously installed into Chicago’s policing infrastructure.
In 2003, a pilot policing project in the UK known as “Talking CCTV” gained international attention for its use of childrens’ voices to scold offenders caught littering or committing other violations. Earlier this year, talking lampposts with pre-installed CCTV cameras and microphones were introduced in the US.
Another aspect of this international policing agenda is seen in the collection of biometric details, which are increasingly being used, stored and even shared in international agreements that are seldom reported on in the press.
In 2004, the US began the VISIT program to digitally fingerprint and photograph international travelers arriving at major airports. Spurred by industry lobby groups like the International Air Transport Agency, countries around the world have been urged to adopt similar measures. Japan implemented the same program of photographs and fingerprints at its own airports in 2007. In the UK, the BAA has tried on numerous occasions to implement fingerprint scanning of all passengers departing Heathrow, but the plans were struck down by the courts in March of 2008 for violating data protection laws.
Meanwhile, a 2009 conference involving Canada, Australia, the US, the UK and New Zealand agreed that the immigration and border services of all five countries would begin sharing their fingerprint databases amongst each other. The European Union already has a coordinated fingerprint database, called Eurodac, which the UK joined last year.
One of the most startling examples of international coordination on these issues relates to the worldwide implementation of biometric ID cards and passports. A January, 2010 article on the subject entitled “ID Cards – intergovernmental cooperation in worldwide implementation” exposed how the simultaneous, coordinated worldwide roll-out of biometric ID was being harmonized behind the scenes by international agreement and standardized according to guidelines laid out by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The standard, known as ICAO 9303, defines the file formats and communication calls to be used in photographs, fingerprints and iris scans contained on computer chips embedded directly into the ID itself.
In 2010, Nathan Allonby, the author and researcher behind that article, appeared on The Corbett Report to talk about ICAO 9303 and its implications.
As Marshall, Allonby, and numerous other researchers note, the internationalization of the police state is predicated on an increasingly sophisticated technological control grid, a grid which itself is predicated on international corporations acting in concert through international agreements via international institutions like the UN to implement a homogenous and interconnected system for tracking, tracing and controlling the citizenry of the world regardless of nationality.
While the picture painted by this information is necessarily bleak, perhaps there is something to be learned from the way in which those with a vested interest in consolidating such authority in the hands of the few have worked together to establish this system.
Because, precisely as the international police state has come together as the result of coordinated, concerted action on the part of financiers, government officials, well-connected bureaucrats and business leaders, so too can we only hope to defeat this system and re-assert the principles of freedom and liberty by discarding petty differences in the creation of a coordinated, concerted movement of free people who refuse to give in to authoritarian control.