– How British Spies “Seed the Internet With False Info, Control YouTube Pageviews and Manipulate Online Polls” (Liberty Blitzkrieg, July 16, 2014):
Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have proof about an incredible set of tools used by the British equivalent of the NSA, known as the GCHQ, or Government Communications Headquarters. These tools will essentially confirm every single conspiracy theory you could have ever imagined when it comes to propaganda on the Internet. It allows British intelligence officers to: “manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, ‘amplify’ sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be ‘extremist.’”
Being the creative folks that they are, GCHQ even came up with code words to describe each “product.” These include, UNDERPASS (for poll manipulation), SILVERLORD (for censorship), GESTATOR (for the manipulation of YouTube views), PREDATORS FACE (for DDOS attacks), the list goes on…
Glenn Greenwald writes at The Intercept that:
The secretive British spy agency GCHQ has developed covert tools to seed the internet with false information, including the ability to manipulate the results of online polls, artificially inflate pageview counts on web sites, “amplif[y]” sanctioned messages on YouTube, and censor video content judged to be “extremist.” The capabilities, detailed in documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even include an old standby for pre-adolescent prank callers everywhere: A way to connect two unsuspecting phone users together in a call.
The tools were created by GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), and constitute some of the most startling methods of propaganda and internet deception contained within the Snowden archive. Previously disclosed documents have detailed JTRIG’s use of “fake victim blog posts,” “false flag operations,” “honey traps” and psychological manipulation to target online activists, monitor visitors to WikiLeaks, and spy on YouTube and Facebook users.
GCHQ refused to provide any comment on the record beyond its standard boilerplate, in which it claims that it acts “in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework” and is subject to “rigorous oversight.” But both claims are questionable.
Several GCHQ memos published last fall by The Guardian revealed that the agency was eager to keep its activities secret not to protect national security, but because “our main concern is that references to agency practices (ie, the scale of interception and deletion) could lead to damaging public debate which might lead to legal challenges against the current regime.”
This last line is of crucial importance. The entire point of spying has nothing to do with terrorism, but as many of us have suspected, it is all about protecting and maintaining the status quo.
Oh, and just in case these products aren’t enough fascism for you, no need to fret. We learn that:
And JTRIG urges its GCHQ colleagues to think big when it comes to internet deception: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”
So next time you question the number of views on a certain video, or your website experiences a DDOS attack, there may be a intel officer at the other end of the line with a giant sign saying “fuck you mate.”
Full article here.