Tag Archives | Espionage

Ralph Nader: How Corporate Espionage on Nonprofit Watchdogs Goes Unpunished

Ralph_Nader_in_Waterbury_12,_October_4,_2008

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader speaking at a campaign event in Waterbury, CT at 195 Grand St. By Sage Ross via Wikimedia Commons.

Just thought the Disinfo crowd might find this piece interesting. It was posted originally on AlterNet, so click through the link to read the entire thing.

via AlterNet:

Here’s a dirty little secret you won’t see in the daily papers: corporations conduct espionage against US nonprofit organizations without fear of being brought to justice.

Yes, that means using a great array of spycraft and snoopery, including planned electronic surveillance, wiretapping, information warfare, infiltration, dumpster diving and so much more.

The evidence abounds.

For example, six years ago, based on extensive documentary evidence, James Ridgeway reported in Mother Jones on a major corporate espionage scheme by Dow Chemical focused on Greenpeace and other environmental and food activists.

Greenpeace was running a potent campaign against Dow’s use of chlorine to manufacture paper and plastics.

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The shameful secret behind the popularity of spy movies

It seems that some tend to attribute too much credit to the goings on of shadowy operations. No wonder when we consider the longevity of the spy fiction genre.

via The Week

Shape of Walther PPK

Shape of Walther PPK (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Moviegoers love spies. James Bond is probably the most successful franchise in history. And when you consider all the spinoffs, descendants, books, television shows, and media-spanning imitators, it’s probably fair to say that spying is one of the top two or three subjects of popular media in America, along with superheroes and light sabers.

Most spy fiction portrays spies as noble and almost superhumanly skilled, both physically and intellectually. James Bond is always a master at whatever the screenwriters can dream up, up to and including sword-fighting with a half-dozen different kinds of blades. Jason Bourne speaks a dozen languages, fights like an MMA specialist, drives like a rally car champion, and can break into CIA headquarters without even breathing hard.

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United States Secretly Built “Cuban Twitter” To Gather Personal Data And Foment Unrest

cubaA Cuban social media platform called ZunZuneo with tens of thousands of users was in fact an espionage project concocted by the U.S. government. Although, what social network isn’t about covert data mining? The Independent reports:

In an apparent throwback to the Cold War, the US government spent $1.6m building a social media network with the aim of undermining the communist government in Cuba, it has emerged.

Documents obtained during an investigation by the Associated Press show that the project, which lasted more than two years and drew thousands of subscribers, was built with secret shell companies and was financed through foreign banks.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was reportedly behind the project which saw the creation of a ‘Cuban Twitter’ dubbed “ZunZuneo” – slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet. Users of “ZunZuneo” were entirely unaware of the involvement of the United States government agency and that American contractors were gathering personal data about them.

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Snowden: NSA Involved in ‘Industrial Espionage’

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 10.05.54 AMLauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

The vast dragnet operations of the NSA include “industrial espionage,” whistleblower Edward Snowden told the German television network ARD TV in an exclusive interview airing Sunday evening.

In his first televised appearance since speaking with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong, Snowden spoke at length with German journalist Hubert Seipel on his current predicament as an exile living in Russia.

In text released ahead of the interview, ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security, giving the example of the German engineering firm Siemens.

“If there is information about Siemens that benefit the national interest of the United States, but have nothing to do with national security, then take this information anyway,” Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia.

The program will air at 23:05 CET, or 5:05 PM EST.

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Chinese Spy Busted Stealing Iowa Corn Seeds

roflbot(5)A couple of weeks ago we a had a virtual currency heist, now we’ve got Chinese biotech espionage in the middle of Iowa. Man, this world gets a little more cyberpunk with every passing day. I wonder if Google Glass comes in a mirrorshade edition?

Newser:

Federal agents caught an alleged Chinese spy last week trying to smuggle highly valuable “inbred” cord seeds out of the country, prosecutors say. Mo Hailong is accused of stealing the seeds from fields in Illinois and Iowa and trying to evade FBI agents after dropping off seeds at a rented storage facility, reports the Des Moines Register. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine for stealing trade secrets worth up to $40 million. What’s the big deal? Inbred seeds possess certain special qualities, like resistance to droughts or pests, reports the Smithsonian.

“It’s really the foundation for Iowa agriculture, so it’s really something that we need to protect,” says an Iowa professor.

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The Brave New World Of Corporate Espionage

320px-BodywornSurveillanceEquipment“Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations” is the title of a report by Gary Ruskin of Essential Information on a topic that he says we know little about because the “entire subject is veiled in secrecy.” The report is available as a 53-page PDF; below is the introduction:

In the United States, corporations have hired private investigators since the colorful and enterprising Allan Pinkerton set up a detective agency in 1850. It was a benign start. Pinkerton enforced a strict code of ethics on his “private eyes,” and he focused much of their work on solving crimes and catching criminals. But when Pinkerton died in 1884, his business was taken over by his sons, who had ideas of their own. They undertook controversial work, such as anti-union and strike-breaking operations. Thus began the long rise of the corporate spy-for-hire, and the effort to counteract those who dared to impair the profits of corporate America.

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Military To Use “Spy Rocks” For Surveillance

spy rocksThere’s no one around to hear us but that rock sitting over there. Wired UK reports:

At the annual AUSA Army meeting in Washington, DC, Lockheed Martin showcased developments in their surveillance technology called SPAN (Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network), a “covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network” that can provide “unobtrusive, continuous surveillance” in units so small they can fit in a rock.

SPAN is a mesh network of self-organizing sensors that, when triggered, can cue a camera or an unmanned aerial vehicle to further study an area, or summon an engineer when a pipeline or bridge structure is in danger or fractured.

Lockheed touts the “field-and-forget” technology as providing maximum coverage at minimal costs, claiming that the sensors can remain in the field for years at a time without maintenance, powered by solar technology. The defense contractor is hoping to sell its spy rocks for surveillance, border protection, pipeline monitoring and bridge security, among other things.

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Documents Reveal NSA Bugged The United Nations

united nationsPerhaps most disturbing is how chipper they are about it. TechCrunch writes:

The NSA has been spying on the goings-on at the United Nations’ New York headquarters for nearly a year.

German news magazine Der Spiegel cites a multitude of documents that “stemmed” from Edward Snowden which purport (among other things) that the NSA first managed to crack the UN’s video conferencing system during the summer of 2012.

Some of the documents speak nicely to the sort of banality those involved ascribed to their actions — “The data traffic gives us internal video teleconferences of the United Nations (yay!),” one of them reads.

Also on that list of targets is the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union, though at this point it’s unclear what exactly the NSA has managed to dig up on either of those bodies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Der Spiegel notes that [the NSA's activity] “has little or nothing to do with warding off terrorists.”

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The NSA’s ‘Widest-Reaching’ Program XKeyscore Revealed

xkeyscoreVia the Guardian, the curtain keeps pulling back to reveal ever-greater levels of total surveillance:

The National Security Agency boasts in training materials that a program called XKeyscore is its “widest-reaching” system for developing intelligence from the internet.

The top secret program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files shed light on one of Snowden’s most controversial statements, made in his first video interview with the Guardian on June 10: “I, sitting at my desk,” said Snowden, could “wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email”.

Training materials for XKeyscore detail how analysts can use it and other systems to mine enormous agency databases by filling in a simple on-screen form giving only a broad justification for the search.

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Russia’s Kremlin Security Agency Buys Typewriters In Response To NSA News

typewritersTime for a return to analog? Via the BBC:

Russia’s agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters – a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. A 486,540-rouble order for electric typewriters has been placed by the FSO agency on the state procurement website.

The FSO has not commented on why it needs the old-fashioned devices. But an agency source told Russia’s Izvestiya newspaper the aim was to prevent leaks from computer hardware.

“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in 2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” the source said.

The source added that typewriters were already being used at Russia’s defence and emergencies ministries for drafts and secret notes, and some reports had been prepared for President Vladimir Putin by typewriter.

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