Privacy Ratings: Germany 3.9, U.S. 2, China 1.3

Image courtesy of Privacy International via Concurring Opinions

UPDATE: Shanghaiist has a post titled “The Panopticon (with Chinese Characteristics) on the newest surveillance techniques being applied to Shanghai’s migrant population.

UPDATE II: BBC article on British Information Commissioner Richard Thomas’ findings on British surveillance

Not sure what I think of this, I haven’t read the report. As far as I can tell it measures only government surveillance – OpinioJuris says:

The reasons for the poor U.S. score are too numerous to explore in any detail here. Most, however, won’t surprise you: the lack of a comprehensive privacy-protection law for the private sector; widespread and essentially unchecked electronic surveillance; the PATRIOT Act; the increasing use of video surveillance and face-recognition technology in public places; the REAL ID Act’s de facto creation of a national identity card; CAPPS II; the supposedly-defunct Total Information Awareness program…

On the other hand, Concurring Opinions points out its hard to reduce privacy to a universal scale of measurement. I’d like to hear Dan Harris at China Law Blog, for one, opine on this. The article at PI is here. Still, if you read Bruce Schneier’s blog, you know there are good reasons to be concerned about the U.S. How close is the U.S. to a Chinese surveillance society? How is this apples and oranges? I have trouble believing the Chinese government can gather as much personal data – Chinese people don’t use credit cards, online banking, etc. and an enormous amount of private data is paper, not bytes. Then again, China leapfrogs old legacy database systems, so perhaps they can gather data streams faster than the US without overhaul? Then again again, the U.S. has Choicepoint. Hmmmm… the mind reels.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

I noticed that Britain is colored black, the same as China and Russia. Does this mean these three countries all share the same level of privacy?

November 3, 2006 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

I just answered my own question by clicking on the link, and the answer is yes.

November 3, 2006 @ 7:45 pm | Comment

I have real trouble with the criiteria used in this exercise. I have serious doubts about the efficacy of this study.

November 3, 2006 @ 8:49 pm | Comment

@Ames: so do I, but I’d be interested to hear your reasons why.

November 3, 2006 @ 10:52 pm | Comment

As pointed out above, it is hard to reduce this to a universal scale, but based on experiences banking and living in Europe, the Americas and Asia, I don’t see any surprises here.

November 3, 2006 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

I appreciate your calling me in on this, but I am going to need to review the study closely before I answer. Let’s just say I find it very suspect.

November 4, 2006 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

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