GCHQ: Stuffing the Internet Ballot Box

davefairtex
By davefairtex on Sat, Jul 19, 2014 - 7:41am

Here's a neat article by Glen Greenwald - the man who brought you the first Snowden articles, that all the rest of the mainstream news organizations were too scared to publish:

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/07/14/manipulating-online-polls-ways-british-spies-seek-control-internet/

In it, he chronicles the functionality developed by GCHQ for "messing with the Internet."  JimH, I thought of you when I read this.  Here's a laundry list of functionality the organization can provide.  Your Tax Dollars At Work (at least if you live in England):

• “Change outcome of online polls” (UNDERPASS)

• “Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign” (BADGER) and “mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign” (WARPARTH)

• “Disruption of video-based websites hosting extremist content through concerted target discovery and content removal.” (SILVERLORD)

• “Active skype capability. Provision of real time call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.” (MINIATURE HERO)

• “Find private photographs of targets on Facebook” (SPRING BISHOP)

• “A tool that will permanently disable a target’s account on their computer” (ANGRY PIRATE)

• “Ability to artificially increase traffic to a website” (GATEWAY) and “ability to inflate page views on websites” (SLIPSTREAM)

• “Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube)” (GESTATOR)

• “Targeted Denial Of Service against Web Servers” (PREDATORS FACE) and “Distributed denial of service using P2P. Built by ICTR, deployed by JTRIG” (ROLLING THUNDER)

• “A suite of tools for monitoring target use of the UK auction site eBay (www.ebay.co.uk)” (ELATE)

• “Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity” (CHANGELING)

And regarding oversight:

Chris Huhne, a former cabinet minister and member of the national security council until 2012, insisted that ministers were in “utter ignorance” about even the largest GCHQ spying program, known as Tempora—not to mention “their extraordinary capability to hoover up and store personal emails, voice contact, social networking activity and even internet searches.” In an October Guardian op-ed, Huhne wrote that “when it comes to the secret world of GCHQ and the [NSA], the depth of my ‘privileged information’ has been dwarfed by the information provided by Edward Snowden to The Guardian.”

 

5 Comments

Jim H's picture
Jim H
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 8 2009
Posts: 2385
Thanks Dave

It is amazing how the Gov't will go to such lengths to control perceptions... but won't intervene to control/suppress the price of Gold   : ) 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 3 2008
Posts: 5418
just maybe

Given that 95% of the people care about the internet, and 2% of people care about gold (enough to own some) - perhaps that's why that's where the government puts its effort.

That, and it would take real money (hundreds of billions - or the leasing of actual gold) to change the price of gold - and that only for a period of time - while the budget to muck with an internet poll might cost a few thousand dollars.  Probably mostly just a staffing effort.

But hey.  They're the same thing, right?  Money is no object.  Fed has infinite money, etc, etc.

That's always what I hear anyway.

 

james_knight_chaucer's picture
james_knight_chaucer
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 21 2009
Posts: 160
TPTB monitor my ebay transaction here in the UK

Items from outside the EU are stopped by the post office if their value is over £15. I receive a postcard asking me to pay tax on the item before it will be delivered:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-value_consignment_relief

Just over a year ago I ordered a dash cam on eBay from Korea costing $159. The supplier kindly suggested that they would write on the package that it was $20, (so would be tax exempt due to being under £15).

I was surprised to receive the postcard however, asking for the correct amount of tax before the item would be delivered. When I received the item, nowhere either inside or outside the package did it mention the true cost of the item other than the $20 previously mentioned.

TPTB must have either monitored my emails or paypal or eBay account, and sent a message to the post office asking them to look out for a package from Korea for me.

 

 

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 470
internet ballot box

A few years back, there was an online poll with a focus on something like the most accomplished athlete across many sports.  A coworker of mine was a swimmer and wanted a swimmer to win.  He wrote a script in something like 15 minutes to vote for his favorite every few seconds.  Sure enough, he was successful until the poll organizers smelled something fishy and noticed all of the votes coming from one IP address. 

I'm sure that more subtle manipulation from folks with the resources to spoof IP addresses would go completely undetected.  It probably wouldn't take that much longer to do than my colleague's 15 minute script.

Hrunner's picture
Hrunner
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 28 2010
Posts: 256
Thanks for the scorecard

Thanks also, Dave,

My unofficial scorecard:

Government manipulates:

Online polls

Video-based websites

Skype messaging and content lists

Facebook

Individual citizens' online accounts

Youtube video amplification

Webservers they don't like

Ebay

Email addresses of any citizen

Add the above to those we know about based on published information

Bonds

Stocks

Mortgage rates and mortgage backed paper

derivatives

Money supply

Labor prices

Inflation

Public perception of war, other countries, the economic outlook, the labor market, public optimism

All economic statistics (inflation, labor market, GDP, CPI, consumer confidence, Manufacturing)

Taxes (most un-elected officials through regulatory fees and fines)

What can be sold and not sold based on Attorney General and Regulatory agency attacks- see firearms industry, healthcare insurance, and myriad others

Broadcast content (FCC rules and regulations, fines and selective penalties)

Political speech and freedom to associate (see Lois Lerner's IRS)

Not Manipulated:

Gold

Silver

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