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Sweden's privacy protection 'second worst in EU'

Published: 06 Nov 2006 17:16 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Nov 2006 17:16 GMT+01:00

Sweden is second from bottom in the EU when it comes to protecting its citizens' private integrity, according to a new report by civil liberties group Privacy International.

The Privacy and Human Rights Report is a 1,200 page document measuring a range of criteria surrounding surveillance and privacy protection.

The resultant data are pulled together to establish a national data ranking, whereby areas such as constitutional protection and workplace monitoring are allocated a grade along a scale from 1 to 5.

This year the study focussed on the EU and eleven other benchmark countries.

Sweden could only manage 24th place in the EU with an aggregate score of 2.2 out of a possible 5. Germany came top of the pile with a rating of 3.9. The UK achieved the lowest score in the EU by quite some margin, scoring just 1.5.

Two areas in particular contributed to Sweden's poor showing: data retention and political leadership. In both cases Sweden received the lowest possible grade, indicating extensive surveillance and bad practice.

The UK's independent information commissioner, Richard Thomas, is very concerned about the developments of the last few years.

"Two years ago I warned that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us," he told Reuters.

Pirate Party leader Rickard Falkvinge calls on the new government not to repeat the mistakes of the previous administration.

"This shows that former justice minister Thomas Bodström's favourite mantra – 'We are only introducing restrictions that are already in place in other countries' – was a cleverly constructed deception from start to finish," said Falkvinge in a press release.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.se)

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