Communion Of Dreams

Not to worry, we’re right up there with China and Russia.

Intrusive governmental surveillance is a staple of Science Fiction, and was part of the horror of Communism during the Cold War. Just about every spy movie set behind the Iron Curtain showed it, and of course the fictional world of George Orwell’s 1984 was predicated on a complete lack of privacy.

We do not live in a totalitarian society. I was behind the Iron Curtain during the 1970s for a brief period, and saw what it was like first hand. And say what you will, 1984 did not become a reality.

But we are living in an “endemic surveillance society”. And it is as bad here in the US as it is in China and Russia. That is the conclusion of Privacy International‘s 2007 International Privacy Ranking. From the report:

In recent years, Parliaments throughout the world have enacted legislation intended to comprehensively increase government’s reach into the private life of nearly all citizens and residents. Competing “public interest” claims on the grounds of security, law enforcement, the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration, administrative efficiency and welfare fraud have rendered the fundamental right of privacy fragile and exposed. The extent of surveillance over the lives of many people has now reached an unprecedented level. Conversely, laws that ostensibly protect privacy and freedoms are frequently flawed – riddled with exceptions and exceptions that can allow government a free hand to intrude on private life.

At the same time, technological advances, technology standards, interoperability between information systems and the globalisation of information have placed extraordinary pressure on the few remaining privacy safeguards. The effect of these developments has been to create surveillance societies that nurture hostile environments for privacy.

Actually, while we are grouped in the tier of worst countries (along with China and Russia) when it comes to protection of privacy, our score is slightly better than both of them. This doesn’t give me a lot of comfort. Take one look at the map they have created, and you’ll shudder too.

Jim Downey

(Via BoingBoing. Cross posted to UTI.)

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Complete lack of privacy results from pervasive Google. The inability of a private citizen to keep his name out of the Google indexes.

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