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Annual privacy report details global erosion of freedom

PI and EPIC take the temperature

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Last week Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) published this year's edition of their Annual Global Privacy Study. The 800 page report, available free here, covers the state of privacy in 60 countries, and concludes that threats to personal privacy have now reached a level dangerous to fundamental human rights.

Crime and public order laws have limited reedom of assembly, privacy, freedom of movement, the right of silence, and freedom of speech, and governments "have continued to use terrorism as the pretext for an increase of surveillance, even when surveillance is unwarranted."

ID schemes, the weakening of data protection and the intensification of data sharing and collection are also catching, and made more possible by growing cooperation between government entities and the private sector, and the report identifies these major trends:

- New identification measures and new traveller pre-screening and profiling systems
- New anti-terrorism laws and governmental measures provide for increased search capabilities and sharing of information among law enforcement authorities
- Increased video surveillance
- DNA and health information databases
- Censorship measures
- Radio frequency identification technologies
- New electronic voting technologies
- Mismanagement of personal data and major data leaks

According to Privacy International director Simon Davies, "Governments are systematically removing the right to privacy. Surveillance of every type is being instituted throughout society without any thought about the need for safeguards. The spectre of terrorism has at last become the device that any government can deploy to entrench the powers they always sought."

The report consists of assessments of specific countries, which handily allows you to check up on the activities of your particular local lords and masters, plus an overview of the state of play by category, which makes it possible to figure out who might be leading the charge in a given area, and to identify patterns. Essential reference material.

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