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Surveillance facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Surveillance quevaal
A nest of surveillance cameras

Surveillance means watching someone or something. It may be secret, and many methods are used including telephone tapping to listen to the person's calls and putting an electronic listening device, a bug, into a room.

Governments and the military have built large facilities designed to listen in to communications between other governments and military groups. For example the U.S. has a large base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, Australia, which listens to communication signals from all over the world.

Eavesdropping is also surveillance, but often without much planning. It means listening to things you aren't supposed to hear. It is a deliberate act, rather than simply overhearing someone else talking.

Surveillance methods

Peenemunde test stand VII
WWII aerial photo of the V2 rocket test stand at Peenemünde.
U-2 photo during Cuban Missile Crisis
Soviet truck convoy carrying atomic missiles near San Cristobal, Cuba, on Oct. 14, 1962 (taken by a U-2)

Surveillance is the secret or hidden watching of people or things with a purpose. That purpose may be crime prevention or general gathering of information for a polical purpose. The results of surveillance are sometimes called "intelligence". Surveillance collects information for police, intelligence agencies, military planners or commercial firms.

This may include observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment (such as CCTV cameras), or interception of electronically transmitted information (such as internet traffic or phone calls).

Surveillance may include simple, relatively low-technology methods such as human intelligence agents and postal interception. On the other hand, global surveillance is done by satellite cameras on a daily basis. Such satellites are called "reconnaissance satellite" or spy satellites.

The word surveillance comes from a French phrase for "watching over" ("sur" means "from above" and "veiller" means "to watch").

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Vigilancia para niños

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