A new survey from two privacy organizations says state surveillance is increasing, even in the world's strongest democracies.
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.