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Dealing with surveillance

Organisations involved in controversial issues, particularly those who encourage or assist members to commit civil disobedience or direct action, should be alert to the possibility of surveillance and disruption by police or federal agencies.

Surveillance is the art of monitoring the activities of persons or groups without them knowing they are being monitored. Surveillance has been an intrinsic part of human history but modern electronic and computer technology have given surveillance a whole new means of operation. No longer must it be practised by agents, it can be automated using computers. No longer do people have to be watched  their own activities create records that describe their activities.

In Australia many individuals and organisations have been spied upon, wiretapped, their personal lives disrupted and their organisations infiltrated, in an effort to undermine or draw them away from their political work.

Good organisers should be acquainted with the history of political surveillance and infiltration in Australia, and with the signs that may indicate their group is the target of an investigation.

Do not let paranoia immobilise you

Overreaction to evidence of surveillance can be just as disruptive to an organisation as an actual infiltrator or disruption campaign. You are not paranoid - assume that they are watching you. Just stay calm about it.

Also see the Surveillance of activists section under Legal context.