Ireland protects the privacy of its citizens more than any other developed nation, a new study shows.
A survey by Comparitech, a pro-consumer website focused on tech services, reveals that Ireland tops the list of 47 countries when it comes to privacy and surveillance protection.
Ireland scored 3.2 out of five which was the highest score of any country surveyed but, according to Paul Bischoff, Comparitef's privacy advocate, there is still room for improvement.
Explaining how the study was conducted, Mr Bischoff said Comparitech assessed privacy protection and the state of surveillance in the countries to see where governments were failing to protect privacy and/or are creating surveillance states.
“To do this we looked at a number of categories, from the use of biometrics and CCTV to data sharing and retention laws.
We found that not one country is consistent in protecting the privacy of its citizens. Most are actively surveilling their citizens, and only five could be deemed to have adequate safeguards.
Mr Bischoff said that in the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is helping improve privacy laws, on the whole.
“However, it doesn’t prevent some countries from entering into agreements that encroach on residents’ privacy through data sharing with other countries, e.g. the Treaty of Prüm. It doesn’t stop some countries from increasing their use of biometric surveillance, either.
“Outside of the EU, several countries are creating what can only be described as surveillance states, with privacy rights seemingly taking a serious back seat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, China and Russia are the biggest culprits.”
The study found that Ireland tops the list when it comes to privacy and surveillance protection due to the active role being taken by our Data Protection Commission and general resistance towards the introduction of biometrics on ID cards, despite it being an EU regulation.
The study notes that Ireland is taking an active role in seeking to overturn the EU's data retention directive and is not part of invasive data-sharing agreements like the 2005 Prüm Convention or the Schengen Agreement.
However, according to Comparitech, the categories that let Ireland down were its weakened protections for sensitive data (i.e. several data breaches in the medical industry), the subsidisation of CCTV, and a threat to press freedom due to the concentrated ownership of media outlets.
Only four EU countries are deemed to provide 'adequate safeguards' to protect individual privacy. They are Ireland, France, Portugal and Denmark.