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It's remarkably easy for the police and other state authorities to monitor your Internet activity, including intercepting your emails.

They do it, too.

Internet monitoring by police and intelligence services

As a generalization, your privacy level on the Internet is lower than on a regular phone line.

Internet network managers can see your emails, companies store information about your visits, and hackers do whatever they feel like doing.

The police and state security organisations also take a strong interest in the Internet. In the UK, all Internet traffic is monitored by an MI5 surveillance centre. This includes most of the traffic between Europe and the USA.

In theory they're supposed to get a court order before collecting information on an individual's Internet use and reading their emails, but if you believe they always do this, you probably also believe in Father Christmas and tooth fairies.

Most other countries don't have such a formalised bugging system, but you can be pretty confident they can follow your Internet use if they feel like it. The NSA in the US almost certainly monitors thousands of users.

You can make life difficult for them using encryption. Even the security services have a problem decoding encrypted messages. But it's only a problem of time and computing power. They can decode them if they decide to - it just might take them a while.

Echelon - the world's largest surveillance operation

Cell phone monitoring

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