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Brazil as surveillance society? Privacy International´s view (1)

January 30, 2009

Every year, Privacy International publishes a kind of index of privacy. The methodology is qualitative and has a strong element of subjectivity based on PI´s campaigning objectives (for example my colleague, Minas Samatas, finds their assessment of Greece as the best country in Europe in this regard, ludicrous). There are also problems with the equivalence of the all the different categories, both in terms of whether all the surveillance identified is even ethically ´bad´ anyway, and in the adding up of categories to conclude that you can lump together the USA, UK, Russia and China. However, it remains a good focus for discussion and no-one else does anything similar.

Let´s see what they concluded about Brazil. Brazil ends up in the 3rd worst category overall, with a ´systematic failure to uphold safeguards´. In particular, PI condemned:

  • the role of the courts in weakening constitutional rights of data protection (something I will be coming back to next week);
  • the lack of a privacy law;
  • the lack of habeus data provisions;
  • the lack of a regulatory of personal data and privacy;
  • an overly simplistic test for the legailty of communications interception;
  • the new ID law;
  • recent Youtube censorship;
  • increasing workplace surveillance, which has only been partially addressed by the courts;
  • widepsread private interception of intenet and e-mail traffic;
  • that fact that ISPs are required to keep and hand over traffic data to police;
  • the extensive road transport surveillance using RFID.

However they also noted:

  • the protection of the right to privacy of children under a 1990 law; and
  • the fact that bank records are protected under the constitution, and warrants are required to seize them

I will be going through their country in report in more detail next week and using this as one of the bases for the questions I will ask NGO representatives and parliamentarians in the weeks after wards.

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