Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Endemic surveillance societies

How does Japan compare as far as spying on its own citizens goes? Not as bad as some may think, at least according to Privacy International's 2007 Privacy Rating.

Japan is rated as having "Systematic failure to uphold safeguards." But that isn't so bad if you consider George Bush's USA, or Britain, Russia, or China and a few others. They are rated as "Endemic surveillance societies."

From the ranking:

  • No explicit right to privacy in constitution though Supreme Court has interpreted a substantial right as falling under Article 13 on right to life an liberty
  • No comprehensive privacy law, instead only guidelines for specific industries; and some legislation in some sectors
  • Government created a privacy seal, but serious shortcomings have been identified
  • Judicial warrants for interception, and warrants only last ten days initially, though application appears to be overly broad and abuses have emerged
  • Surveillance cameras continue to spread despite constitutional issue, though at least one ward has enacted an ordinance to limit rapid increase of cameras
  • Tagging and tracking of children continues
  • Genetic test abuses across country, and only guidelines have been released to deal with the problem
  • Developing DNA database though court order is required to take DNA samples
  • Resident registration law; extensive legal activity at the moment with court cases outstanding
  • Extensive data breach problems
  • Only second country to implement vast biometric collection at borders
  • Ratified convention on Cybercrime
  • No right to privacy in constitution, though search and seizure protections exist in 4th Amendment; case law on government searches has considered new technology
  • No comprehensive privacy law, many sectoral laws; though tort of privacy
  • FTC continues to give inadequate attention to privacy issues, though issued self-regulating privacy guidelines on advertising in 2007
  • State-level data breach legislation has proven to be useful in identifying faults in security
  • REAL-ID and biometric identification programs continue to spread without adequate oversight, research, and funding structures
  • Extensive data-sharing programs across federal government and with private sector
  • Spreading use of CCTV
  • Congress approved presidential program of spying on foreign communications over U.S. networks, e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc.; and now considering immunity for telephone companies, while government claims secrecy, thus barring any legal action*
  • No data retention law as yet, but equally no data protection law
  • World leading in border surveillance, mandating trans-border data flows
  • Weak protections of financial and medical privacy; plans spread for 'rings of steel' around cities to monitor movements of individuals
  • Democratic safeguards tend to be strong but new Congress and political dynamics show that immigration and terrorism continue to leave politicians scared and without principle
  • Lack of action on data breach legislation on the federal level while REAL-ID is still compelled upon states has shown that states can make informed decisions
  • Recent news regarding FBI biometric database raises particular concerns as this could lead to the largest database of biometrics around the world that is not protected by strong privacy law

*The US is no longer "considering" this change in law to give immunity to phone companies. It passed last month with the help of Senator "Change" Obama who originally opposed it.

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