01 January 2008

Big Surprise, Lefty UK Organisation Finds That the USA is Eeeevil . . .

(via /.)

Privacy International has determined that the USA is an "endemic surveillance society" along with Mainland China, Malaysia, UK, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore.

The only country studied with "adequate safeguards against abuse"? Greece, of course.

Color me cynical, but I find it interesting that they didn't study Cuba, Venezuela, or Iran, and it seems like their free mixing of government and 'corporate' surveillance games this rating strongly against countries with an active corporate culture.

Also, all surveillance isn't created equal, we may be "less private" than France, or Japan, or even India (I'm doubtful about that, just to be clear), but I really have no problem at all with our intelligence agencies gathering information on foreign entities or even US citizens who have frequent contacts with terrorist groups and terror supporting groups.

Corporations should protect personal financial and medical records better, there's no doubt about that, but I still have trouble with anybody that wants to suggest that our privacy in the United States isn't any better than that of your average bloke in England (with speeding ticket dispensing cameras on the highways and the entire city center of London under constant watch) or (still) Communist China (who aren't exactly known for their respect for privacy, or any other kind of respect for individual autonomy).

One commenter gets to the heart of just one aspect of how badly this UK organisation (see I'm going with the Brit spelling there) misreads our Constitution (both the document and constitution in the sense of character)
The organization completely misreads the US Constitution and is also factually incorrect.

# 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

1) The US Constitution is NOT a collection of the rights of citizens, ala a French Declaration of the Rights of Man. Rather the US Constitution is a declaration of the rights of government. As it was stated in our own Declaration of Independence "We are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights". Thus, if it is not in the US Constitution, it is legal for citizens (with respect to the federal government), and illegal for the government. The Bill of Rights is thus an affirmation of that idea, not the document that "gives us rights". Our rights are inalienable.

2) The concept of a right to privacy underlies Roe V Wade in the USA.

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