Monday, December 31, 2007
Bottom of the league
The UK is billed as "an endemic surveillance society" alongside Russia, the US, Singapore and China in the survey of 47 countries by Privacy International (PI).
Britain is bottom in Europe because of its cameras, ID card plans and lack of government accountability. Rankings are given for the UK as a whole as well as for its individual nations. "For the first time, Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England and Wales," says the report.
None of this is particularly surprising given the loss this year of computer discs containing personal and bank details of 25 million UK families claiming child benefit, which highlighted the risks of storing information on huge government database. What is worrying is that the report concludes that the 2007 rankings "show an increasing trend among governments to archive data on the geographic, communications and financial records of all their citizens and residents. This trend leads to the conclusion that all citizens, regardless of legal status, are under suspicion.
"The impact was worst in the US and across the EU as governments boosted surveillance and information gathering in the name of security and protecting borders."They say that America performed worst among democratic countries in terms of "statutory protections and privacy enforcement". This provides no comfort for Britons given the decision by the UK Government over a year ago to allow the credit card and e-mail accounts of those flying to the USA to be inspected by the US Authorities, effectively exempting them from European data protection legislation.