Clearly intended to shock, the report now puts the United States into the worst possible category, that of an “endemic surveillance society.”
There is some level of irony here, with the vanguard of open societies claiming to be bringing freedom to the rest of the world having the same respect for privacy as many of the countries they denigrate.
Canada continues to be one of the highest ranked countries for protection of privacy, well above even the U.S.
Key findings are as follows:
- The 2007 rankings indicate an overall worsening of privacy protection across the world, reflecting an increase in surveillance and a declining performance o privacy safeguards.
- Concern over immigration and border control dominated the world agenda in 2007. Countries have moved swiftly to implement database, identity and fingerprinting systems, often without regard to the privacy implications for their own citizens
- The 2007 rankings show an increasing trend amongst 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 privacy trends have been fueled by the emergence of a profitable surveillance industry dominated by global IT companies and the creation of numerous international treaties that frequently operate outside judicial or democratic processes.
- Despite political shifts in the US Congress, surveillance initiatives in the US continue to expand, affecting visitors and citizens alike.
- Surveillance initiatives initiated by Brussels have caused a substantial decline in privacy across Europe, eroding protections even in those countries that have shown a traditionally high regard for privacy.
- The privacy performance of older democracies in Europe is generally failing, while the performance of newer democracies is becoming generally stronger.
- The lowest ranking countries in the survey continue to be Malaysia, Russia and China. The highest-ranking countries in 2007 are Greece, Romania and Canada.
- The 2006 leader, Germany, slipped significantly in the 2007 rankings, dropping from 1st to 7th place behind Portugal and Slovenia.
- In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the US is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. In terms of overall privacy protection 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 worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore. However for the first time Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England & Wales.
- Argentina scored higher than 18 of the 27 EU countries.
- Australia ranks higher than Slovakia but lower than South Africa and New Zealand.