GCHQ Manipulates Online Poll Results, Tracks Skype Users

According to new documents released by Glenn Greenwald and FirstLook.org (provided by none other than by the “Boy-Who-Must-Not-be-Named” as far as the NSA is concerned),the GCHQ has dedicated an entire wing of its surveillance arm to actively monitoring and manipulating the status of petitions, organizations, and websites at will in order to influence the public opinion.

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Photo: Mopic / Shutterstock

With the help of the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), the GCHQ and its staff has been carefully and closely swaying the opinion and browsing habits of users by selecting the information they read, the news they have access to, and the people who hear their messages of revolution.

They even go as far as changing views on YouTube to “signal boost” certain messages, or prevent people from being able to effectively stream content that may be considered “unfit for consumption” by the government or the established representatives who let this sort of thing happen in the first place.

• “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)

• “For connecting two target phone together in a call” (IMPERIAL BARGE)

While some of the tactics are described as “in development,” JTRIG touts “most” of them as “fully operational, tested and reliable.” It adds: “We only advertise tools here that are either ready to fire or very close to being ready.”

These angles of attack echo many of the same social engineering campaigns launched by networks like 4chan and Reddit, who often deploy their concerted, loyal database of users at a flurry of causes that either launched on the Internet itself, or were external events that received unsolicited help from an indirect angle that significantly boosted the results of the eventual turnout for better or worse.

Everything from TIME Magazine Polls to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, held on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C two-hundred thousand strong, have felt the breadth of what the Internet is capable of when it really wants to put its collective hive mind together and get something done.

Just two days ago an article was posted here on VPN Creative that decried the claims of a man named William Binney, who had used his time at the podium during a conference at the Center for Investigate Journalism to allege that 80 percent of all phone conversations in the US are stored daily, as well as some more personally motivated statements such as claiming that the NSA was out for “population control”. At the time, this sentiment was written off as being little more than speculation that wasn’t based on any hard facts.

Well, foot in mouth a mere 24-hours later, it seems that’s exactly what these agencies are trying to do, and they’ve even come up with crazy codenames for every type of political dissent program they’ve got stashed away in their vaults for just about every scenario of potential revolution around.

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Photo: First Look

They are watching you watch them, and changing the channel without permission. They are listening to you talk with friends, post links to puppy videos, and being very careful not to alert you to their presence while they wait for you to fall the slightest bit out of line.

On one of the very same sites that is supposedly being manipulated in order to stem unruliness amongst the ranks (Reddit), the top commenter of the thread on this article makes an all-too succinct, eerily humorous poke at the current state of everyone’s favorite police state:

“Citizens, don’t watch that boring clip about the militarization of our local police forces, check out this cute video of a group of kittens playing with a box. It’s trending!”

It’s natural, to try and find the funny side of something that makes you feel nothing but fear. A chunk of news or information that dive bombs into the deepest pit of your stomach, and makes you so uncomfortable, so unsettled, that only a slight at the situation as a whole will provide you with the bit of sense to be made of what you’ve just read, heard, or seen.

They don’t just want to monitor us, track our GPS coordinates, or change the information we see on our banking statements…they want to control us. They want to shape us. Mold us in their very own image.

Greenwald had been hinting for months that the biggest news was yet to come, and while he didn’t come right out and say this is the exact story he’d been alluding to, one can only hope it can’t get much worse than this.

Then again, that’s what we’ve all been saying for just over a year now, isn’t it?

“How could it get any crazier? There’s just no way they’ve got more dirt. What could possibly be more horrible than tracking apps on a user’s phone and compiling the all the data in an underground server farm somewhere in the middle of the Utah desert?”

This is the crossing of the rubicon, as far as the general perception of the public is concerned. Much, if not all of the programs that have been revealed by the leaks so far can in one way or another be twisted into something that gives the government reasonable cause to use it in their hunt for terrorists, but this is officially beyond anything even their best PR people could spin into some kind of a positive.

These efforts are made for nothing less than a near-omnipotent ability to manipulate the the masses at will, and the hunt to find the slightest bit of an excuse to let them get away with it will likely be one of the great hoop-jumping public relations campaigns of our modern era.