When Edward Snowden announced to the world the widespread practice of the U.S. government spying on the communications of it citizens, there were two overall reactions: appallment and confirmation.
American citizens across the country were appalled and angered at the idea that the ruling elite of the government would secretly monitor all of their electronic communications. Furthermore, citizens were even angrier to find out that the companies (such as Google, Yahoo, Skype, etc.) that they had put their faith and trust into were more than willing to cooperate with the government.
While many were appalled, there were still others who were not shocked that the government was capable of such nefarious actions against its own citizens.
The Ruling Elite – Who Else Is Spying on You?
Many people may be surprised to discover that their governments are not the only entities spying on citizens.
It appears that some corporations go to great lengths to not only spy on American citizens, but to use that information to their advantage.
Corporations use this information not just to market goods and/or services, but also to know their enemy. They also use this information an in effort to either distract the masses from corporate wrongdoing, or (even worse) they use the information against those people. This is another form of the ruling elite, controlling through financial means rather than through legislation. One such case was reported by Barrett Brown.
Brown focused on Bank of America’s practice of hiring an army of cyber-mercenaries in response to a WikiLeaks statement that they had materials that were evidence of an “ecosystem of corruption [that] could take down a bank or two.” (1)
Afraid that they were one of the banks mentioned by WikiLeaks, Bank of America went on the offensive. The corporation hired Booz Allen Hamilton, Palantir and HBGary Federal; all of which are known for their intelligence gathering and data mining.
With Bank of America’s handpicked squad of cyber-intelligence soldiers, they set out to annihilate the hacktavist group, Anonymous and any of their sympathizers.
This consortium of intelligence firms created by this ruling elite class within the financial sector, became known as Team Themis. The goal of Team Themis was to gather intelligence data on Anonymous and their sympathizers by any means necessary, which included illegally.
It seemed that Team Themis did exactly that. According to Anonymous:
“Looking at the data it becomes clear that Bank of America, TEKSystems, and others (see origins of reports) gathered information on Anonymous and other activists’ movement on various social-media platforms and public Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels.” (2)
However, HBGary would go one step further than just obtaining data, they were caught creating it.
It seems the CEO Aaron Barr put together a fake file containing alleged leaders of Anonymous. This fact was only revealed after the hacktivist group hacked HBGary and discovered several emails outlining the scheme.
They also discovered emails that HBGary was working on software that would “allow for the creation of multiple fake social media profiles to infiltrate discussion groups and manipulate opinion on the sites and discredit people, as well as to match personas online with offline identities.” (1) Once exposed, Aaron Barr resigned from HBGary
Even though Bank of America was exposed for the espionage they committed against private citizens, how many cases of corporations and big business committing such acts go unreported?
Even worse, how often are corporations successful in the intimidation of those who are out to expose them?
It seems that the government and big business (the core of the ruling elite) are actively spying on the masses. However, who is watching the entities? If we (as citizens and consumers) do not keep tabs on government and big business, then they both will be able to freely spy on us. The onus is on the American people to put a stop to illegal spying perpetrated by these elite groups.