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Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting. Surveillance is therefore an ambiguous practice, sometimes creating positive effects, at other times negative. It is sometimes done in a surreptitious manner. It most usually involves observation of individuals or groups by government organizations (though there are some exceptions, such as disease Surveillance, which monitors the progress of a disease in a community without for that matter directly observing or monitoring individuals).

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