Onboard Threat Detection System For Big Brother Airlines

An Onboard Threat Detection System is under development for the Paris-based Security of Aircraft In The Future European Environment (SAFEE) project. The intent is to provide pilots and cabin crew with an early warning of terrorist activities.

Here's how it would work. While you sat in your seat just before and during the flight, a tiny camera that would be virtually undetectable would focus on your face and upper body. Every facial expression and twitch would be scrutinized, as well as any suspicious body movements. On-board software would compare your behavior with known or theorized terrorist behavior.

A microphone would hear and record even the most lightly whispered remarks. Apparently, Islamic terrorists are known to whisper texts from the Koran just before going into action.

"We're trying to develop technologies that indicate the differences between normal passengers and those who may be a threat to others, or themselves," said Catherine Neary of BAE Systems. She also noted that all video, audio and other recordings would be destroyed at the end of every flight so passenger liberties were not infringed.

The development of this system is being carried out by British and German researchers; approximately $US50 million has been budgeted. BAE Systems already specializes in Deployable Surveillance Units that integrates a wide range of sensors (radar, EO/IR cameras and motion detectors). SAFEE is an integrated project with several dozen partners throughout the European Union.


(InFlight television screens)

If SAFEE engineers could just combine the little LCD displays already present in the seat backs on many planes with George Orwell's telescreen, we could perfectly monitor everyone.

And, if this system works in the air, it would work in other places where we are afraid of terrorists. For example, buses, trains, subways and other transit systems. Then, of course, there are the other terrorist targets, like nightclubs, restaurants and even cafes...

The Chestnut Tree was almost empty. A ray of sunlight slanting through a window fell on dusty table-tops. It was the lonely hour of fifteen. A tinny music trickled from the telescreens.

Winston sat in his usual corner, gazing into an empty glass. Now and again he glanced up at a vast face which eyed him from the opposite wall. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said.
(Read more about Orwell's telescreen)

Apple Computer has applied for a patent for a display screen that could also capture images; see Apple Apparently Working On Orwell's Telescreen. Read more about Watching you fly, Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment and BAE Systems Deployable Surveillance Systems.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/18/2007)

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