Security Culture Basics
Assume you are under surveillance if you are involved in organizing mass direct action or anything illegal, and take precautions. Don't discuss sensitive matters on the telephone, through the mail, by email, or in your home, car or political office/center. Don't talk about anything illegal, even if you are just "joking." Keep written materials and lists of individuals secure and never bring address books to protests where arrest is possible - if you're arrested, the police may investigate all your friends.
Never discuss illegal activity
It is never okay to:
The only time it's okay to speak about illegal actions is when you are planning them with the small group of trusted people who will be doing the action with you.
Adopt a Security Culture
Activists organizing mass protests, direct action or anything illegal should make it as difficult as possible for police agencies by adopting a security culture. Activists who are part of a security culture know behaviors that compromise security and quickly educate anyone who acts in a way that violates or threatens security. When all members of a group understand security and correct mistakes, unsecure behavior becomes unacceptable and will stop. This frustrates police surveillance and infiltrators because they can't obtain information or plant it.
People in the scene who gossip, brag or ask for unnecessary information about underground groups or illegal activities are a severe danger to the movement. The first time this happens, take such a person aside and gently educate them in private about why such talk is a danger. Be careful not to preach, injure the individual's pride, or raise defenses and prevent them from absorbing the advise. If an individual repeatedly engages in gossip, bragging and/or seeking unnecessary information about inappropriate topics after repeated educational talks, the person should be removed from any position of trust in movement by being kicked out of meetings, organizations, base camps, etc. Such a person is a grave risk at best, and a police agent looking to provoke or entrap others at worst.
Infiltrators attempt to get information about organizations, disrupt them by creating splits and disorganization in meetings and in individual's lives, and entrap activists by urging insecure illegal activity. They often disrupt groups, ironically, by promoting destructive witch hunts for infiltrators! Carefully check out the authenticity of any disturbing letter, rumor, phone call etc. before acting on it. Ask the supposed source if she or he is responsible. Don't try to expose a suspected agent or informer without solid proof. It generally works better to criticize what a disruptive person says and does without speculating as to why. Avoid entrapment by only doing illegal direct action with people you know well and trust. Avoid government-sponsored splits in movement groups by dealing openly and honestly with differences within our movements in race, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc. before the FBI can exploit them.
[From "Security Culture", Slingshot Issue #72, http://slingshot.tao.ca/ with modifications by the editor.]