The drama surrounding the Snowden revelations helped shine light on a fundamental challenge for both companies and citizens: governments worldwide are accessing more and more personal data through the private sector. Counter-terrorism and national security is an important part of this picture, but it goes broader than that. Governments access, collect and store data for law enforcement, social security, health care, transportation, and lots of administrative purposes – and they do so on a larger and larger scale. Increasingly, authorities’ access to this data is automated, or systematic, indiscriminate, and often requires no human involvement. The laws that authorize access are opaque or secret, national parliaments conduct limited oversight, and judicial review is often lacking.
These are some of the conclusions that emerge from new research recently published by the Center for Democracy & Technology, sponsored by The Privacy Projects. The research compares government access to personal data across 13 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.
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