Shell, Nestle, Monsanto and McDonald’s Have Biggest Private Spy Outfits

Just as governments spy on activists, so do corporations. In an interview, investigative reporter Eveline Lubbers is asked which corporations have the most extensive intelligence-gathering operations. The answer (maybe) via Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, Monsanto and McDonald’s.

Are these corporations the worst offenders in general? That is a difficult question, and I have no answer to it in terms of straight figures and statistics. Since most of  these manoeuvres are secret, they remain in the dark (no pun intended). You don’t know what you don’t see.

What I can say from the case studies that I worked on, and from the stories that have come to light in the past few years in the UK and the US, is this. We are not looking at isolated cases, what has come to the surface is more like the tip of the iceberg. I have identified patterns in how police and corporations deal with resistance, with criticism, with campaigners, and how they join forces. The roots of these policies go back to the early days of industrialisation, of capitalism, as the history chapter shows. The present corporate counterstrategies go back to the early 1970s, and in the UK to the Thatcher days, with corporations today building on the similar plans developed back in the days by those in PR and risk management. The networks of police and intelligence personnel now working in security for corporations or in consultancy is more than an old boy network exchanging information. The blurring boundaries give way to a joint network with a similar agenda of increasing power while getting rid of risk factors like boycotts or other political barriers.

more of the interview is here.

“I’m watching!” image courtesy zen

15 Comments on "Shell, Nestle, Monsanto and McDonald’s Have Biggest Private Spy Outfits"

  1. Hadrian999 | Apr 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

    activists are going to have to become spies, that is how the game is today. if you want to change anything you have to operate by Moscow rules. People are watching, cataloging, looking for ways to co opt, penetrate, or destroy their opposition. writing blogs and coffeehouse drum circles wont change anything

    • Frank_Black | Apr 11, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

      You are absolutely right. Allot of this will also involve becoming tech savvy, and smart about what electronic devices to be around when you talk. I remember a Democracy Now interview with Jacob Appelbaum when he was talking about his phones being seized at customs and his laptop hard drives being mirrored by DHS. Apparently it is worse than that, as later in the interview he admitted he has no electronics around when he talks about any cyber security or wiki leaks type stuff. He unplugs phones, pulls batteries out of cells and laptops or won’t even be in the same room with equipment that is off. That tells me he knows something allot of us don’t, namely that these devices can be jacked remotely and used for surveillance means even when they are off.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Apr 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

    makes me wish I had info worth stealing
    in fact my info might frighten them
    since I rarely consume consumer products

    • Hadrian999 | Apr 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm |

      they will just try to make fakes of what you do consume

      • BuzzCoastin | Apr 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

        I’m already hip to the organic food scam
        but yer right
        they try to slice and dice the fakes
        so that only the most discriminating notice

        90 percent of the money Americans spend on food
        goes toward processed foods loaded with additives

  3. sonicbphuct | Apr 12, 2013 at 3:44 am |

    i’ve always known this goes on, but had never really given it significant thought cycles until I watched a documentary on Ralph Nader. I think it was titled … well, here’s the link: … Ahh, yes, “An Unreasonable Man”. Oddly, a few days later, I watched the well executed “Promised Land” w/ Matt Daemon (sp?). An odd synchronicity.

    As a contributor to an Autonomous School in Zurich switzerland that provides language courses (as well as other courses) for undocumented travellers/settlers and the community at large, I’ve often wondered just what level of infiltration there is. More to the point, I’ve wondered what kind of counter measures there might be.

    After rolling it around in my head a while, I came to the conclusion that there are very few effective counter measures due to the very nature of citizen/activist groups – that is: transparent and open to all. These two combating cultures – the corporate secret / hierarchy based & the open/transparent Activist based – are roughly akin to the Palestinians and the Israeli defence forces. That is to say, so completely unmatched that the best weapon is the exposure of the suffering.

  4. Hadrian999 | Apr 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

    hmmmmmmmm story about corporate spies and most of the comments disappear

  5. corporate counter espionage against activists is anything but new. I’m kind of astonished by how many folks think of it as a paranoid conspiracy theory…when the paper trail shows corporate investment in security, PR and spin control as climbing steadily for decades. When specialized service companies come into being just provide these services to corporations and keep the activity at a distance by claiming it as ‘consultancy’…it’s no longer a paranoid theory…but a financial fact.

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