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article imageOp-Ed: The secret rise of corporate spying Special

By Ben Morris     Mar 3, 2014 in Politics
Olympia - Last November a global protest led by the leaderless collective Anonymous was held in hundreds of cities all over the world, including Olympia, Washington.
Leading up to the march, Bank of America partnered with Washington State Police to violate the first amendment rights of protesters angry about intrusive government and corporate control.
In emails released through court order, and posted on Scrib’d, it was revealed Senior U.S Crime and Intelligence Analyst Kim- Triplett-Kolerich interacted with WSP to spy on the social media activity of protesters ahead of the planned march in an effort to “protect” police from “protests/arrests/injury.”
In an introductory email, Triplett-Kolerich promised to troll the internet to find any intel on the march, claiming Bank of America employs twenty people whose sole job is to spy on social media. Kolerich kept in constant contact with the WSP regarding the possible outbreak of violence, as well as the possible usage of smart phones to record any actions of the police.
The emails revealed a clear partnership between the bank and the police to attack one group with a long history of agitating Bank of America.
Digital Journal contributor Justin King has extensively covered Anonymous. His relationship with the collective does not allow him to get any previous information about a campaign because it would put the collective and himself in jeopardy; however, he views the silence of Anonymous as an ominous sign for Bank of America.
“The IRC channels won’t even discuss Bank of America- typically what that means is that they are going to do something. If they weren’t going to be up to something, they would talk about it more freely.” What could be next for Bank of America is another embarrassing leak that shows culpability in blatantly criminal conduct.
In February 2013, Anonymous hacked into the private e-mails, and spreadsheets of TEKsystems, a contractor hired Bank of America to monitor Anonymous and other hacker networks taking aim at the bank. The information included an email that suggested TEKsystems was able to identify the person behind an Anonymous Twitter handle. That leak, and others have not prevented massive corporations from conducting surveillance programs, because they have friends in high places, who allow corporations to act with impunity.
Bank of America is part of the Domestic Security Alliance Council, a partnership between corporations and the FBI that “advances elements of the FBI and DHS missions’ in preventing, deterring, and investigating criminal and terrorism acts...” The secretive partnership was revealed thanks to a Freedom of Information request by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. In the highly redacted documents Bank of America was shown to be working with the FBI, and other federal agencies to spy on Occupy Wall Street protestors. In a release explaining what was found, Executive Director of PCJF, Mara Verheyden- Willard said, “The documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity.” Verheyden-Willard added, federal agencies are acting as “a de-facto intelligence arm,” for corporations and Wall Street, a claim that is not off base.
In late 2010, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange threatened to take down an American bank. In fear that they were the ones targeted, Bank of America got together with their friends in a quest to discredit and destroy Wikileaks. In the report Spooky Business, author Gary Ruskin noted the bank hired the law firm Hunton & Williams to join forces with security companies Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies, and HB Gary to devise a plan to save BoA by orchestrating “highly unethical, and/or illegal tactics,” to ruin the reputation of Wikileaks. Those tactics included submitting false information and calling out the errors to ruin the reputation of leaker, as well as attacking their network to expose the identities of the leakers. The plan even included a plan to destroy the career of journalist Glenn Greenwald, for the crime of supporting Wikileaks.
In emails leaked by Wikileaks, former head of HB Gary Aaron Burr noted Greenwald was a person the team needed to “highlight,” because, “without the support of people like him, Wikileaks would fold.” When media outlets reported on the story, Hunton & Williams refused to comment at any time, the D.C powerhouse firm stayed silent in a desperate attempt to avoid responsibility. They have multi-national corporations, banks, and security firms to protect from hackers, protestors, and anyone who attacks unethical practises their clients make a sport out of. Bank of America is only one of those clients, and they are not the only corporation who attack protest.
The Spooky Business report found, “Corporations have been linked to a wide variety of espionage tactics. The most prevalent tactic appears to be infiltration by posing a volunteer or journalist, to obtain information from a non-profit.” These activities are practiced by the likes of Monsanto, Kraft, Wal Mart, Shell go to any lengths to silence protest through blackmail, and intimidation. All in an effort to silence concerned Americans who practice freedom of speech and assembly.
In an interview from Oakland, Ruskin claimed, “We have so little information on the outbreak of corporate espionage.” Without an Edward Snowden within the apparatus, corporations are able to “cloak their espionage activities,” in complete secrecy. Even though Ruskin authored a report that shined a light on the practise of corporate spying, his work is only a treatment in an empty book void of pertinent information. In the eyes of Ruskin, “You have seen no action as far as you can tell, from either Congress, or the Department of Justice regarding wrongdoing by the latest geo-corporate espionage against non profit organizations.”
When security companies hired by federal agencies, hire former federal agents from the CIA, FBI, and various police forces, the motivation to investigate these operations is non-existent. The American spy state is alive and well. As long as corporate espionage operations remain a dark secret, America’s constitutional rights will slowly vanish.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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