Surveillance Grows Worldwide in 2007

By Matthew Harwood

Countries around the world in 2007 have shown a tendency toward greater and greater surveillance of its citizens, according to two privacy organizations.

In their annual survey, "The Privacy and Human Rights Report," the U.S.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the U.K.-based Privacy International , the two non-profit organizations detail the state of privacy internationally for the year 2007.

Greece, Romania, and Canada have the best privacy safeguards while Malaysia, Russia, and China rank as the worst.

According to the report, immigration and border security fears have led countries to implement security protocols such as database, identity, and fingerprinting systems without regard to their own citizens' privacy. (For more on the immigration backlash worldwide, read this article from the Economist.)

Once again, the United Kingdom finds itself the worst democracy in protecting its citizens' privacy within the European Union, ranking alongside of Russia and Singapore in the survey's worst category, reserved for "endemic surveillance societies." Also in Europe, the survey points out that it is the older democracies that are most prone to surveil their citizens while the newer democracies are more vigilant in protecting their citizens' privacy.

Despite the Democrats winning control of Congress in the United States, the report also faults the U.S. Congress for expanding surveillance initiatives without regard to its citizens or its visitors. This trend has led the United States to fall far below its esteemed tradition of protecting personal privacy.

The report states:

In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the U.S. is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. In terms of overall privacy protection in the United States has performed very poorly, being out-ranked by both India and the Philippines and falling into the "black" category, denoting endemic surveillance.

The report says its aim "is not to humiliate the worst ranking nations, but to demonstrate that it is possible to maintain a healthy respect for privacy within a secure and fully functional democracy."

The project, say the two groups, is designed to nurture privacy protection around the world and to identify those countries that could do more to strengthen privacy protections for its citizenry.


Why is Surveilance a Problem?

I'll be the contrairan with parts of this article. If a person is not doing anything wrong why would basic monitoring be a problem as long as it is not of my personal life. Why should they be concerned.

A company by the nature of they are in business and the fact that company assets do belong to the company so I feel they have complete right to monitor their use. If an employee is not abusing them and the company is not abusing how they monitor, privacy is not being lost. I'll still live in the US with the protections that we have compared to any of the countries that this excerpt seems to proclaim are better than teh United States.

Yes it is true that surveillance could go to far, but is our job as citizens to recognize a companies right to monitor and to not be doing anything wrong so that monitoring would be a problem. We have the option to vote for a new government and to freely speak out if we don't like it, I'll take that any day. Lets not lose it by over reacting. Stay out of my personal life, but it I'm doing something illegal I deserve to be caught and if a level of surveillance is necessary to retain a secure environment in which I live. Watch me all you want, I hope you enjoy.
Make Security Part of You and Your Company's DNA and you won't find the need for nearly as much monitoring.

Ken M. Shaurette, CISSP, CISM, CISA
MERIST - Information Security Evangelist
(Maximizing Emerging Resources in Information Security Technology)

View Recent News (by day)


Beyond Print

SM Online

See all the latest links and resources that supplement the current issue of Security Management magazine.