This essay seeks to contribute to debates surrounding surveillance, media, and security cultures by exploring the intersection of surveillance and listening. Throughout the essay, examples from the United States and Australia illustrate the overlap between popular media, policy, and surveillance. It argues that popular media can show us how secret listening is socialized. It uses the series ‘eavesdropping – tapping – bugging – interception’ as a framework to identify continuities and discontinuities in how surveillance has engaged listening.

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