EPIC and PI Release Third Annual Privacy and Human Rights Survey

On September 19, EPIC and Privacy International (PI) released their third annual Privacy and Human Rights survey. “Privacy and Human Rights 2000: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Developments”, reviews the state of privacy in over fifty countries around the world.

On September 19, EPIC and Privacy International (PI) released their third annual Privacy and Human Rights survey. “Privacy and Human Rights 2000: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Developments”, reviews the state of privacy in over fifty countries around the world.

The report finds worldwide recognition of privacy as a fundamental human right. Many countries around the world are enacting comprehensive data protection laws to safeguard individual privacy. Many of these countries, especially in South America, South Africa and Central Europe, are introducing such laws to remedy privacy violations that occurred under previous authoritarian regimes. Others, such as in Asia, are developing information privacy laws in an effort to promote electronic commerce. Others still, such as countries in Central and Eastern Europe, are hoping to become members of the European Union and are adopting laws based on the 1995 European Union Data Protection Directive.

At the same time, both law enforcement agencies and private corporations are extending surveillance powers through the use of new technologies. The report notes that many of the recent threats to individual privacy result from new Internet-based commercial services, such as interactive television — or “SpyTV” — that record the preferences of individuals. The report recommends improved oversight and stricter enforcement of current laws to prevent such practices.

The report also argues that the United States government is leading a multi-tiered effort to limit individual privacy and enhance law enforcement surveillance powers. For example, on the domestic front, it is promoting domestic laws such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) that make it mandatory for all companies developing telephone switching, cellular, and satellite communications technologies to build in surveillance capabilities. The government has also sought to limit the development and dissemination of encryption products that protect individuals’ private communications. At the international level, the report finds that the U.S. has been vigorously promoting greater use of electronic surveillance and pressurizing countries, such as Japan, into adopting wiretapping laws. It has also been working through international bodies such as the European Union, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and the G-8 to promote surveillance and place restrictions on online privacy, anonymity, and encryption.

“Privacy and Human Rights 2000: An International Survey of Privacy Laws and Developments” by David Banisar is available at:

http://www.epic.org/phr/

Author: EPIC

News Service: EPIC

URL: http://www.epic.org/phr/