Malaysia and Japan use video surveillance to oversee public places. Italy uses the technology to monitor transportation. And Germany uses it to collect tolls. That's just a small sample of countries adopting public-area surveillance, notes an annual report by watchdog group Privacy International. Some countries are establishing safeguards for the use of video, the report points out. Brazil, for example, limits the use of recorded images, and Estonia has established maximum video-retention periods. Public-area surveillance is just one of many government initiatives that threaten personal privacy, according to the report. The report delves into the privacy threats posed by governmental measures used to combat terrorism, such as national ID systems, smart cards and biometric databases, and traveler prescreening. Not all concerns are related to security, however. Other systems cited in the report as possibly encroaching on privacy are government smart-card schemes and DNA and health-information databases. The most recent government initiatives that raise privacy issues, according to the report, include antispam laws and electronic-voting initiatives. SM Online takes you to the report.