Private Web spies monitor activists online for Australian police and attorney-general

God defend me from my friends – from my enemies I can defend myself

by Michael Smith

A private intelligence company has been engaged by police in Australia to secretly monitor internet and email use by activist and protest groups, according to a report.

The company was hired by Victorian Police, the Australian Federal Police and the federal Attorney-General's department to monitor and report on the internet activities of anti-war campaigners, animal rights activists, environmental campaigners, and other protest groups.

The Melbourne-based firm has for the past five years monitored websites, online chat rooms, social networking sites, email lists and bulletin boards, so says the report, and has gathered intelligence on planned protests and other activities, and even though many, if not even the majority, of those on the watch list have broken no laws.

Welcome to the fascist Dominion of Australia. Then again, it would appear that the mother country, Britain, is headed the same way, with the security services running roughshod over all civil liberties possible. Is this a sign of things to come?

This private intelligence company has also prepared threat assessments and intelligence reports for government agencies that included material from media reports, speeches, academic journals and publicly available company data, but no private correspondence, so it is claimed, was monitored.

As to the latter I would, personally, be very dubious. If they go as far as they have gone the chances are that they may have gone further still but that this is more secret than other things.

The company was not named at the request of its management for fear extremists may target the firm.

The news comes a month after Victorian police were found to have targeted community and activist groups in a long-running covert operation.

So much for the claims of freedom and liberties in Australia. If that is freedom and liberty then I would not want to see what happens should they change tack.

There is one difference between Australia and the UK and that is that in Australia it seems to be easier to find out those things that the services are up to compared to the UK. In the latter place the law and the culture of secrecy makes getting such information very difficult indeed, despite of the “Freedom of Information Act” and if they can claim that they are monitoring suspected terrorists then, well, no chance of getting info and anything that ends up leaked and then published could get one killed.

© M Smith (Veshengro), November 2008