Thursday, January 03, 2008

Heading in the Wrong Direction . . . .

The US really sucks, but Canada is slipping, too. Check last year vs. this year to see the trend in the wrong direction.

From Privacy International: Read the whole article here.

(Click Map to Enlarge)

Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection.


Countries have been graded according to a mean score across fourteen criteria. These are divided into
Score rangeDescription


Consistently upholds human right standards


Significant protections and safeguards


Adequate safeguards against abuse


Some safeguards but weakened protections (Canada)


Systemic failure to uphold safeguards


Extensive surveillance societies


Endemic surveillance societies (United States)

CANADA (Score: 2.9)

  • Privacy not mentioned in Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but courts have recognised the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy
  • Statutory rules at the federal level (public and private sectors) and provincial laws apply to sectors and governments
  • Federal commission is widely recognised as lacking in powers such as order-marking powers, and ability to regulate trans-border data flows
  • Variety of provincial privacy commissioners have made privacy-enhancing decisions and taken cases through the courts over the past year (particularly Ontario)
  • Court orders required for interception and there is no reasonable alternative method of investigation
  • Video surveillance is spreading despite guidelines from privacy commissioners
  • Highly controversial no-fly list, lacking legal mandate
  • Continues to threaten new policy on online surveillance
  • Increased calls for biometric documents to cater for U.S. pressure, while plans are still unclear for biometric passports


  • 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

Perhaps upcoming elections in both countries will reverse the trend.

I'm not holding my breath . . . .

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