Civil liberties groups from around the world today united to attack the 'extreme' digital surveillance methods that have been imposed across many countries since the terror attacks of 11 September 2001.

The Fifth annual Privacy and Human Rights Survey launched tomorrow, published by Privacy International and US-based Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), paints a bleak picture of governments erosion of people's privacy.

It focuses specifically on illegal spying rings, such as Echelon and the controversial Data Protection Act.

"The UK demonstrates a pathology of antagonism toward privacy," said Simon Davies, director of Privacy International. "The Data Protection Act is almost useless in limiting the growth of surveillance.

The report expressed concerns over the number of countries currently passing laws that require service providers and telcos to retain traffic and location data of all people using the internet, mobile phones and other electronic communications devices.

A second report, released today, published by Paris-based civil liberty group, the Reporters without Borders, says cyber liberty has been abolished.

"The climate of heightened consciousness about security that has reigned since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 is poised to legitimise a setback in freedom of expression for Europeans," said Robert Menard, secretary-general of the organisation.

The report accuses governments of becoming "predators of digital freedoms".

Data retention provisions have been enforced in several European countries, with the exception of the Netherlands, which has refused to enforce such monitoring.