Are activists really put under surveillance.


But don’t let that stop you. Far more damage is done to groups by paranoia and suspicion than the surveillance itself.

There is a long, documented history in Australia and other countries, going back decades. Peaceful protesters and those who dissent have been targeted at a varity of levels. At CounterAct we rarely talk about it, other than in direct training and meetings with activists, as people can be sceptical. But yes, it does.

At the moment people who peacefully resist government policies can be subject to police, intelligence agency, and corporate surveillance.

Whilst it is very hard to tell to what extent, a consensus among some folks in this field is that activists are unlikely to be tracked and recorded in real time, except for particular events. It is believed it would be more rare for an individual phone tap, for example, than broadscale use of metadata to track patterns of movement between activist groups.

When activists meet and people take their phones away from meetings and put them in another room, this is generally based on the off chance that a single phone in the group could be tapped – not that everyone’s calls are being listened to. (Your microphone can be remotely activated, and there are ways for tracking to still occur even without battery, whilst switched off)

There are different kinds of surveillance

  • Physical infiltration of groups. This has been documented in mainstream media – with a record of both police and corporations infiltrating meetings.
  • Monitoring metadata
  • Monitoring computers, installing things like keyloggers
  • Phone taps
  • High tech recording/listening devices that can detect noise over distance – for example, near a blockade camp
  • Numerous others

Examples of surveillance:

We are in the process of collating a much larger amount of information and case studies – please get in touch if you would like to share personal experiences.

If you’d like to minimise risk of surveillance simply search for “digital privacy” and “security culture” in our search function.