by Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie
November 26, 2008 6:55AM
THE internet communications and websites of anti-war campaigners, environmentalists, animal rights activists and other protest groups are being secretly monitored by state and federal agencies.
A Melbourne private intelligence firm specialising in “open-source intelligence” has been engaged by Victoria Police, the Australian Federal Police and the federal Attorney-General’s Department to monitor and report on the protest movements’ use of the internet.
The monitoring, which has been secretly conducted for at least five years, includes exploring websites, online chat rooms, social networking sites, email lists and bulletin boards to gather information on planned demonstrations and other activities. Many of those monitored have not broken any laws, but it is believed information about their participation in online activities is conveyed to government agencies that also deal with terrorism.