Contemporary World Issues


Privacy is defined by as " the state of being free from intrusion or disturbance in one's private life or affairs" (

The United States is ranked very low in its protection of privacy as compared to other major nations.  Privacy International, a watchdog human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations, reported in their annual privacy grade statement that the United States is an "endemic surveilence society" meaning that the U.S. breaches privacy regularly and often capriciously, as many times the surveillance comes to nothing.

What Privacy International found of United States

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


On the other hand, Greece is the top country in respects to privacy, with "adequate safeguards against abuse"

Privacy International found:

Article 9 of the constitution recognizes the right to privacy in the home, and data protection (since amendment), Article 19 for communications privacy

Comprehensive privacy law

Data Privacy Authority is independent, led by high ranking official, and may impose administrative or penal sanctions that include imprisonment; a history of controversial but important rulings, covering ID, CCTV, DNA, and workplace surveillance

CCTV was permitted for the Olympics on the condition that they be de-activated after the games; but this was continued for a further six months to monitor car traffic circulation, and was then extended to 2007, but also fined the police for a breach

Infamous wiretapping case involving Vodafone and ministers' communications, led to a 76m EUR fine for Vodafone


Constitutional protection
Statutory protection
Privacy enforcement
Identity cards and biometrics
Visual surveillance
Communication interception
Workplace monitoring
Government access to data
Communications data retention
Surveillance of medical, financial and movement
Border and trans-border issues
Democratic safeguards


United States Citizen Privacy Vs. Greece Citizen Privacy

United States Privacy

The United States Fourth Amendment states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” (4th Amendment)

The US Department of Homeland Security is investing in face recognition technology so that federal marshals can surreptitiously photograph people in airports, bus and train stations, and elsewhere to check whether they are in terrorist databases. The Los Angeles police department already is using handheld facial recognition devices. (

Phone Taps

Phone taps are very broad due to the USA PATRIOT act, allowing monitoring of not only one phone, but "roving" monitoring, allowing all phones used by a suspect to be monitored, as well "Pen registers" which ascertain phone numbers dialed from a suspect's telephone; "Trap and trace" devices monitor the source of all incoming calls. (

Greece Privacy

The European convention on human rights (Which Greece honors) states “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
( Section 1 article 8)

Police used traffic cameras to monitor a 2004 protest. The government was sued over the DPA privacy violation as spelled out in the Greek constitution Article 19 "Secrecy of letters and all other forms of free correspondence or communication shall be absolutely inviolable. The guarantees under which the judicial authority shall not be bound by this secrecy for reasons of national security or for the purpose of investigating especially serious crimes shall be specified under law." (

Phone tapping

There was only one account of phone tapping, the monitoring of mobile phone conversations, of more than 100 Vodafone users including government ministers, military officials and journalists between around June 2004 until March 2005, when Vodafone dismantled the systems after the security breach was uncovered. The program used to listen into these conversations was pre-installed on these phones as a security measure by police to listen in on terrorist conservations, but was not activated by the government for that purpose.(

Bibliography Section 1 article 8[347]=x-347-559597[347]=x-347-559478[347]=x-347-559534[347]=x-347-559062

Articles to read:

Gov is tracking when and where you went out of the country... for up to 15 years!
U.S. spies are using American Tax dollars to search for terrorists on World of Warcraft
Article on the infamous  Total Information Awareness System
On governmental data mining programs
Myths of wiretapping
A guide to the online information the government has access to:
More on the loss of privacy

How to Request Privacy Act Information
the newest bill on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillence Act

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