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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 January 2008, 09:20 GMT
Civil liberty praise for Scotland
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England and Wales were classed as "endemic surveillance societies"
The SNP has welcomed an international report which found civil liberties were better protected in Scotland than other parts of the UK.

The human rights group Privacy International ranked Scotland separately in its annual report for the first time.

The UK as a whole scored 1.4 on the report's scale - the worst of any European country.

But Scotland fared much better, with a rating of 2.5.

Privacy International said the report suggested England and Wales were "endemic surveillance societies".

Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England and Wales
Privacy International

But the report also stated: "For the first time Scotland has been given its own ranking score and performed significantly better than England and Wales."

Privacy International considered whether or not countries had identity cards and the use of data-sharing and video surveillance when compiling the report.

The group also considered other factors, including the monitoring of people at work and government access to data.

As well as claiming Scotland had stronger protection of civil liberties than England and Wales, the report also argued the DNA database was not as open to abuse as it was in England and Wales.

It stated the Scottish Government appeared to be more responsive and open to debate than local government in England.

The study came after the loss of two computer discs containing the data of 25 million people by HM Revenue and Customs.

'Personal data'

It also came less than a month after MSPs at Holyrood passed a motion urging the Scottish Government not to let personal information join the UK ID database.

Pete Wishart, the SNP's Westminster home affairs spokesman, welcomed the findings.

Mr Wishart, the MP for Perth and North Perthshire, said: "This report highlights how people's civil liberties are safer in Scotland - particularly after the Scottish Parliament voted to oppose ID cards just last month."

He added: "Considering the loss of personal data over the past few months Gordon Brown should be ruling out a compulsory ID card system just as the SNP has.

"This report only adds weight to that argument and the UK Government should pay heed to it."

However, an Identity and Passports spokeswoman defended the government's proposals.

She said: "By linking fingerprints to a secure database with strict rules outlining its use, the National Identity Scheme will allow individuals, business, and the state to prove identity more securely, conveniently and efficiently while protecting personal information from abuse."

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