Individual privacy is under threat around the world as governments continue introducing surveillance and information-gathering measures, according to an international rights group.
"The general trend is that privacy is being extinguished in country after country," said Simon Davies, director of London-based Privacy International, which released a study on the issue Saturday. "Even those countries where we expected ongoing strong privacy protection, like Germany and Canada, are sinking into the mire.
Although privacy was improving in the former communist states of eastern Europe, it is worsening across Western Europe, the report said. Concerns about terrorism, immigration and border security were driving the spread of identity and fingerprinting systems, according to the report.
Greece, Romania and Canada had the best records of 47 countries Privacy International surveyed.
Malaysia, Russia and China ranked worst, but Great Britain and the United States also fell into the lowest-performing group of "endemic surveillance societies."
The survey considered such factors as legal protections, enforcement, data sharing, the use of biometrics and prevalence of closed-circuit cameras.
U.S. President George W. Bush's administration has come under fire for monitoring — without warrants — international phone calls and e-mails involving people suspected of having terrorist links.
Davies said little had changed since Democrats took control of Congress a year ago.
Britain was criticized for its plans for national identity cards, a lack of government accountability and the world's largest network of surveillance cameras.