New Snowden Doc Reveals How GCHQ/NSA Use The Internet To 'Manipulate, Deceive And Destroy Reputations'

from the and-not-just-terrorists dept

A few weeks ago, Glenn Greenwald, while working with NBC News, revealed some details of a GCHQ presentation concerning how the surveillance organization had a "dirty tricks" group known as JTRIG -- the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. Now, over at The Intercept, he's revealed the entire presentation and highlighted more details about how JTRIG would seek to infiltrate different groups online and destroy people's reputations -- going way, way, way beyond just targeting terrorist groups and threats to national security.
Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums.
For years, people have said that the purpose of groups like the NSA and GCHQ were merely "signals intelligence," which were about understanding and decoding signals, not about taking any sort of offensive standpoint. However, as the Snowden docs have repeatedly revealed, the mandate of these organizations has long been much more offensively based, and they seem to have little problem with using questionable tactics to destroy people's lives. As Greenwald notes, is this really a power you trust a totally secretive government agency with almost no real oversight to use without it being abused?

There's a lot more in Greenwald's writeup, which you should read, but just a few of the key slides are worth reading to get a sense of what's going on here. This isn't just about infiltrating terrorist organizations. They seem to be using these kinds of techniques on just about anyone they dislike, which harkens back to the Hoover-era FBI infiltrating and seeking to discredit anti-war groups. It also raises very serious questions about whether these efforts are being used to stifle political expression.










The full presentation is embedded below. The cover slide is really something...

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2014 @ 9:23am

    what is so frightening is that if the head of the Nation knows about what's going on, he must either be condoning it or be too afraid of whoever is in charge of the particular security agencies in question to do anything to reign it in!
    this surely makes every single thing that the government does brought into disbelief and removes any faith in whatever is done or said by the no1 person!
    something else that i find a real piss take on the people is that no telecom company can tell you where tele sales calls, nuisance calls or any other 'out of the ordinary' calls come from. how can that be true when they allow NSA or whoever to have access to all calls and they can tell you whether you made a particular, at a particular time, to a particular number, what the call was about and whether you were having a crap at the time or not!!

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