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By Stephen Pederson

Web’s Usefulness in Dirty-tricks Campaigns

Today’s Internet is full of information that can be used against you. 

As technology changes so do the tactics that are employed by those who will do anything to get their way.  If you were blissfully unaware of how today’s technology is used against those who stand in the way of certain individuals and groups, last year you were rudely awoken by thousands of leaked emails from certain lobby and legal firms, as reported by the Washington Post:

Hacker Breaking into Computer

Theft of Digital Information

This little-discussed aspect of the influence business came into view in recent weeks with the release of thousands of hacked corporate e-mails, which detail a pair of high-tech dirty-tricks campaigns aimed at supporters of WikiLeaks and foes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

When a number of contractors to a D.C. law and lobbying firm who worked for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were hacked – contents of proposals were exposed to the public.  These proposals showed just how dirty it could get in the digital age and that certain organizations would cross a number of lines to achieve its aims.

But many experts say the shadowy political intelligence business has become larger and more sophisticated as corporations, trade groups and political parties increasingly turn to computer sleuths to monitor and, in some cases, harass their detractors. The work almost always goes undetected and has been made easier with the rise of computer networks and social media sites with relatively lax safeguards.

This is classic opposition research using state of the art tools to turn the tables of those who are working against you. And it included activities like:

  1. planting false electronic information
  2. creating false online persona’s to mislead
  3. “scraping” the Internet to gather intelligence on opponents

Image by elhombredenegro Flickr

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