London – A series of recommendations from an official review made public last week includes the development of a new algorithm to mine data and detect behaviour that could indicate future involvement in “terrorism”.
This is a threat to an open, accountable and non-partisan justice system that will shift the balance from an evidence-based approach to pre-crime – and it will move Britain closer to a full spectrum surveillance state despite Parliament and the public showing opposition to this.
Computers are only as objective and accurate as their programmers. This is proved by the devastation wrought by drone attacks and the broad and subjective nature of databases such as World Check, which has listed major charities, activists, and mainstream religious institutions under its category of “terrorism”.
Moreover, methods of intelligence gathering lack transparency as they are often covert and not open to the scrutiny of the justice system. This, along with the almost annual implementation of terror laws, means the rule of law continues to be eroded and the failures of the current approach rewarded, while the threat of political violence is still at a high.
Rather, what Britain needs is a fresh, innovative approach to the problem, which addresses root causes instead of bypassing this key issue and eroding the rights of all.
Muhammad Rabbani, CAGE International Director, said:
“Both the seizure of data without suspicion and the mining of this data with algorithms whose creation and methodology remain far from public scrutiny are a violation of due process. The public is unable to challenge the state’s methods and assumptions in both cases.”
“Rather than serving justice, prediction of future activity serves commercial and political interests which are orientated around an Islamophobic worldview, but which can be extended to other communities. As such they are nothing less than an attempt to extend the grip of the security state over all of us, and will create ever higher levels of mistrust and fear.”
“We call for an end to these counterproductive methods and a return to due process. Predicting the future by those intent on securing their political position is unprecedented, bound to be inaccurate, and is a threat to society.”
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)