Monday, 7 January 2008

Surveillance societies in 2007

Ten days ago the organization
Privacy International released a very interesting report called "Leading surveillance societies in the EU and the World 2007", they said "the World" but actually the new 2007 global rankings cover only 47 countries.

Privacy International (PI) is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI is based in London, England, and has an office in Washington, D.C. We have campaigned across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right.

Summary of key findings

At the end of the article they tell us key aspects for every single country, for instance we have:

United Kingdom

- World leading surveillance schemes

- Lack of accountability and data breach disclosure law

- Commissioner has few powers

- Interception of communications is authorised by politician, evidence not used in court, and oversight is by commissioner who reports only once a year upon reviewing a subset of applications

- Hundreds of thousands of requests from government agencies to telecommunications providers for traffic data

- Data retention scheme took a significant step forward with the quiet changes based on EU law

- Plans are emerging regarding surveillance of communications networks for the protection of copyrighted content

- Despite data breaches, 'joined-up government' initiatives continue

- Identity scheme still planned to be the most invasive in the world, highly centralised and biometrics-driven; plan to issue all foreigners with cards in 2008 are continuing

- E-borders plans include increased data collection on travellers

United States of America

- No right to privacy in constitution, though search and seizure protections exist in 4th Amendment; case law on government searches has considered new technology

- No comprehensive privacy law, many sectoral laws; though tort of privacy

- FTC continues to give inadequate attention to privacy issues, though issued self-regulating privacy guidelines on advertising in 2007

- State-level data breach legislation has proven to be useful in identifying faults in security

- REAL-ID and biometric identification programs continue to spread without adequate oversight, research, and funding structures

- Extensive data-sharing programs across federal government and with private sector

- Spreading use of CCTV

- Congress approved presidential program of spying on foreign communications over U.S. networks, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc.; and now considering immunity for telephone companies, while government claims secrecy, thus barring any legal action

- No data retention law as yet, but equally no data protection law

- World leading in border surveillance, mandating trans-border data flows

- Weak protections of financial and medical privacy; plans spread for 'rings of steel' around cities to monitor movements of individuals

- Democratic safeguards tend to be strong but new Congress and political dynamics show that immigration and terrorism continue to leave politicians scared and without principle

- Lack of action on data breach legislation on the federal level while REAL-ID is still compelled upon states has shown that states can make informed decisions

- Recent news regarding FBI biometric database raises particular concerns as this could lead to the largest database of biometrics around the world that is not protected by strong privacy law


- Constitution protects right to privacy in the home (article 14) and communications (article 15)

- Comprehensive privacy law

- Data privacy authority has extensive powers, including auditing databanks of intelligence activities

- Data privacy authority has stopped two initiatives for expanding use of fingerprinting; and has regulated use of CCTV; and has run public education campaigns on television

- Judicial authorisation for interception, and granted for 15 days at a time; if transcripts are not used they must be destroyed; and exceptions apply for religious ministers, lawyers, and doctors, though there are more lenient procedures for anti-mafia cases

- 2007 a judge ruled that planting bugging devices in a car was not an offence because the law only applies to the home

- A number of abuses in communications surveillance: in 2005 Italian police placed a backdoor into an ISP's server, and monitored all transactions of 30,000 subscribers; telecom italy collected thousands of file on stars and influential people

- Data retention period were for four years, though internet traffic data is now set for 12 months, through a graduated scheme where investigations involve serious crimes are allowed to get telephone data after 2 years, or internet data after 6 months

- Biometric plans for travel authorisation have been reviewed and changed by authority

- Council of ministers approve law requiring every blogger to register with the state; though law is in early stages

The bill requiring bloggers to register was kind of stopped, it'll never be law that way.
Yes, Constitution protects privacy but as i wrote 2 weeks ago, in the reality there's no protection, newspapers and tv news can even realease private phone calls!


Chiara said...

Grazie per avermi segnalato l'interessante report di Privacy international.
Essendomi occupata da vicino di videosorveglianza mi permetto di scrivere un paio di cose:

1)[...] has regulated use of CCTV; Il provvedimento generale è in vigore dal 2004 ma non è affatto rispettato. La legge è ottima, andrebbe applicata.

2) has run public education campaigns on television
Quale campagna?! Io non me la ricordo sinceramente...

Anonymous said...

Support Free Europe by voting YES at!

Fabrizio said...

ciao Chiara, grazie per il commento. Sinceramente nemmeno io ricordo questa campagna televisiva sulla privacy.

- -