Feeds

Britain leads world in police state survey

Gold medals for snooping, spying and surveilling

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A recent survey from internet security consultancy, Cryptohippie, suggests that the UK is setting the pace in at least one area - though being classified as the West’s most repressive regime when it comes to electronic surveillance might not be a title that this government is entirely happy to wear.

This result emerges from Cryptohippie’s recently published Electronic Police State 2008 (pdf). This is the first in what are intended to be a series of annual reports that will audit the "State use of electronic technologies to record, organize, search and distribute forensic evidence against its citizens".

The audit focusses on 17 factors, ranging from requirement to produce documents on demand, through to the extent to which states force ISP’s and phone companies to retain data, the blurring of boundaries between police and intelligence work and ultimately the breakdown of the principles of habeas corpus.

A simple five-point scoring system is used for each factor, with results totalled to produce an overall score. Some 52 major states are looked at, with final ranking apparently influenced by two quite different factors. On the one hand, states that are simply repressive are likely to score highly – and they do. The top four places in the survey are occupied by China, North Korea, Belarus and Russia.

However, electronic policing also requires some degree of technological sophistication – so it is not surprising to find the UK dropping in at no. 5 and the US at no. 6. France and Germany arrive a few places below that.

This result echoes warnings issued repeatedly by Lords and the Information Commissioner – most recently in an official report last month – that Britain is slowly sleepwalking toward becoming a surveillance society. Equally predictable was the government response that it takes all such criticisms seriously and needs to strike a balance.

However, as both Cryptohippie and other government critics have argued, the government response is disingenuous, relying on a rejection of straw men, rather than engaging with genuine fears.

The report expands on its subject thus: "The usual image of a "police state" includes secret police dragging people out of their homes at night, with scenes out of Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR. The problem with these images is that they are horribly outdated. That’s how things worked during your grandfather’s war – that is not how things work now.

"An electronic police state is quiet, even unseen. All of its legal actions are supported by abundant evidence. It looks pristine." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register
You'll Read These And LOL Even Though They're Serious
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.