Factiness EU Style: A Dedicated Group of Like Minded People Carpet Bombs The European Parliament–MusicTechPolicy

 

EU Hackathon is right! Google’s sleazy EU lobbying firm at the center of the controversy over spam email, robo call, and twitter bot campaign against MEPs supporting articles 11 and 13 of copyright directive. 

I am republishing this from the MusicTechPolicy blog as this is completely relevant to our coverage of information warfare style tactics used to overwhelm communications channels with MEPs on copyright directive. See here, here and here.  Much of this activity came from groups associated with Google and appears to have been controlled and directed by Google’s lobbyist N-Square.  This should be investigated as the use of these tactics will likely increase as Google now faces a steep antitrust fine from the EU.

 

by Chris Castle

As MTP noted in Fair Copyright Canada and 100,000 Voters Who Don’t Exist back in 2009, the legitimate desire by governments to use the Internet to engage with the governed is to be admired.  But there have been incredible and probably illegal uses of the Internet to overwhelm elected officials with faux communications that reek of Google-style misinformation and central planning in the hive mind of the Googleplex.

We saw this again with the Article 13 vote in Europe last week with what clearly seems to be a Google-backed attack on the European Parliament for the purpose of policy intimidation.  That’s right–an American-based multinational corporation is trying to intimidate the very same European government that is currently investigating them for anticompetitive behavior and is staring down a multi-billion dollar fine.

Vindictive much?

Advocacy against Google’s interests on artist rights and copyright issues (not to mention human trafficking, advertising illegal drugs and counterfeit goods) can no longer be just about making a good argument to policy makers.  It has to anticipate that Google will pull these DDOS-type stunts capitalizing on what seems to be the element of surprise.

Except there shouldn’t be any surprise.

There is a real problem with policy-by-DDOS governing.  For example, Cass Sunstein, then the Administrator of the Obama Office of Management and Budget, issued a memo in 2010 to the heads of executive branch departments and regulatory agencies which dealt with the use of social media and web-based interactive technologies.

Specifically, the Sunstein memo warned that “[b]ecause, in general, the results of online rankings, ratings, and tagging (e.g., number of votes or top rank) are not statistically generalizable, they should not be used as the basis for policy or planning.”  Sunstein called for exercising caution with public consultations:

To engage the public, Federal agencies are expanding their use of social media and web- based interactive technologies. For example, agencies are increasingly using web-based technologies, such as blogs, wikis, and social networks, as a means of “publishing” solicitations for public comment and for conducting virtual public meetings.

The European Parliament would do well to take a page from Sunstein’s thinking and limit the amount of anonymous contact that anyone can have with MEPs when the European Parliament is suffering a DDOS-style attack.

But the most important thing for the European Commission to take into account is that a company that is the target of multiple investigations is using the very market place monopoly that caused the competition investigations to intimidate the European government into bending to its will on Article 13.  (That, of course, is the biggest difference between the Europeans and Article 13 and the Americans and SOPA–the US government had dropped the US antitrust investigation into Google and it had unparalleled access to the White House.  So the two are really nothing alike at all.)

The European Commission needs to launch a full-blown criminal investigation into exactly what happened on Article 13, particularly since there is another vote on the same subject coming in September.  Properly authorized law enforcement acting swiftly can set sufficient digital snares to track the next attack which surely is coming while they forensically try to figure out what happened.

Advocates need to understand that Google is a deadly force and this is the endless war.  Good arguments are clearly not enough anymore, particularly as long as the government and law enforcement do nothing to protect democratic values from bully boy tactics.

Google – A Pirate’s Best Friend (Guest Post Volker Rieck)

Google – A Pirate’s Best Friend

Google appears to still be blissfully oblivious to its intentional or unintentional (but readily discernible) support for piracy websites. Google supports pirates in a variety of ways, and I will explore a few of them here.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has already been critical of Google’s inaction on piracy for years. The first major problem is the prominent visibility of piracy URLs in Google’s search results. Following the classic logic that the best place to hide a body is surely on the second page of search results, the hope of the filmmakers has been that rank and file consumers, at least, might refrain from using rights-infringing sites when they no longer feature in the first few hits on search.
Pure self-interest could be expected to lead Google to the same conclusion: Google sells movies itself in its Google Play store. With every additional illegal option displayed prominently in search results, Google’s own chances of making a sale to an interested consumer recede. Against this background, let’s now see what happens when we run a search on Google for the movie “Black Panther.”

Illustration: Google search auto-complete for Black Panther
The first suggestion from Google is “Black Panther stream.” The other suggestions seem unproblematic.

 

The very first auto-complete suggestion (Black Panther stream) leads to an additional page of search results. The first three hits lead to illegal sites, and only in the fourth position does the first legitimate option appear in the form of Amazon.de.

Illustration: Black Panther stream – Google search results

As advances in artificial intelligence continue, Google is among those working intensively in this areato improve their services. Why Google has not yet deployed artificial intelligence to intelligently filter the words and phrases used in auto-complete and the links they lead to is a question only Google can answer. While such a step would not entirely resolve the problem of unregulated film distribution, it would shrink it substantially.
And Google already has the perfect data basis for differentiating between pirated and legitimate content. According to informationprovided by Google itself, Google has already received a total of 3.5 billion requests to stop links from appearing in search results. Almost all of these links are removed from the search engine’s index as a result, some even before they have been indexed in the first place.

Google has received about 200 000 takedown requests relating to the first three results in the search above and has complied with most of them.

Perhaps mere human intelligence would suffice to join the dots and resolve the issue if the necessary links were made between existing data sets. Google’s success as an enterprise is attributable to the value and the high quality of its products and services. There can be little doubt about that. But pirates also know how to make these services work for them.

Good tools, dubious users

Google’s support for pirates extends well beyond the issue of search engine rankings.
Let’s look at a few of the other things Google can do for pirates:

1. Google Analyticsis the most unproblematic Google service pirates can avail of. And practically every pirate website does avail of it: the Google account numbers are hiding in plain sight in the source code of many of these websites.
Closing these accounts would be simple for Google.

2. Google reCAPTCHA:Captchas are another excellent service provided by Google. They are used to prevent unwanted visitors or bots from accessing sites – including visitors with an interest in detecting what content is made available on certain websites. Getting around the defenses presented by Google reCAPTCHA is complex and onerous.

Only users with Google Developer accounts can deploy these Google captchas. The account data (with a unique Google ID number) can, again, be found hiding in plain sight in the source code of websites that use the service. But informing Google about seedy sites which abuse this Google service (quoting the developer account number) does not lead to such developers having their accounts withdrawn. Google simply ignores such communication.

Illustration: Accessing Game of Thrones at Serienstream.to (S.to).
A Google captcha presents a barrier to accessing the page.

The following list of pirate sites Google supports through its reCaptcha service makes it clear that the problem extends beyond isolated individual cases:

Filecrypt.cc, Goldesel.to, Ddl-warez.to, Ddl-music.to, Serienjunkies.org, Kinow.to, Serienstream.to, Nox.tv, 3ddl.tv, Iload.to, Bs.to, Streamkiste.tv, Warez-world.org

3. Google Drive:Why rent expensive servers that also have to be managed and maintained? Google offers storage space at highly attractive prices. This space also comes with high-performance connectivity, so that streaming and rapid downloads are not a problem.
Google Drive services have been used in the past by such dubious websites as Tata.toor HDfilme.tv. Only after multiple interventions did Google finally dam the streams of pirated content flowing from these sites. Other, similar websitescontinue to entrust their data to Google.

Conclusion:

“Tech giant” and “corporate responsibility” still seem to be mutually exclusive concepts in 2018. Instead of planning moonshots, Google could choose to help the creative economy by taking some very simple but effective steps.
Google’s willingness to support pirate websites is incomprehensible . Google does not need artificial intelligence to resolve problems like this, but human common sense, intelligent consolidation of data, and employees who review activated accounts.
Stopping the abuse of Google services such as reCAPTCHA in response to well-founded requests would also prove effective

 

Final Thoughts: Information Monopolies + Information Warfare vs Democracy

Did Google cross the line from normal advocacy to employing techniques identical to hybrid information warfare?  These techniques are different from normal advocacy because at root they involve deception.  Manipulation of information and tampering with the natural flow of information, and purposely overwhelming target with false signals.

I’m not an expert on hybrid information warfare.  I started this conversation in hopes that experts would examine what happened with Google, civil societies, lobbying groups,the copyright directive and vote in the EU parliament. It looks like that is now going to happen.

Here are some key questions to ask when examining this within the framework of hybrid information warfare:

  1. Was there a coordinated effort to degrade and manipulate information and then distribute it?
  2. Was there then an effort  to direct that manipulated and degraded information at a particular target?
  3. Was there an effort to overwhelm the information systems of the target by technological means?
  4. If information systems were overwhelmed did this prevent contrary information from reaching target?
  5. Were there obvious command and control points that controlled the flow of manipulated information to target?
  6. Was there evidence the command and control point had the ability to direct manipulated information at particular targets?
  7. Was there evidence the flow of manipulated information was abruptly turned on or off? Or suddenly directed at different targets?

In particular look at the website SaveYourInternet.eu within this framework. This website had all the automated tools that directed, tweets, emails and robo calls to MEPs. Look at the groups at saveyourinternet.eu.  Google’s consultant N-Square Consulting apparently ran this website.  Look at command and control relationship between Google and it’s consultancy N-Square.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hybrid information warfare relies on proxies.  Here are some things to remember about hybrid warfare proxies:

  1. Proxies may not be aware they are being used as proxies
  2. Proxies may be funded directly, indirectly or not at all
  3. Proxies may sometimes produce information that is not helpful to the attacker, however
  4. Proxy information not helpful to the attacker is not distributed, and
  5. Proxies never meaningfully oppose attacker
  6. Proxies can include, related corporations, subcontractors, lobbying groups, civil societies, anonymous actors, and even state funded institutions

Investigators should look for any cultivated connection between attacker and proxies that encourages the production of information helpful to the attacker.  Doesn’t need to be money.  As an example: Wikimedia gets money from Google, but the real beneficial relationship between Google and Wikimedia is built into Google’s search algorithm that drives enormous traffic to Wikipedia.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The big question to be examined: are private information monopolies like Google incompatible with democracy? Look at the information “battlespace” and ask who has the overwhelming advantage? Information monopolies or democracies? Use Google as the stand in:

  1. Collection of information: Google has more information than all national governments combined.
  2. Distribution of information:  Google’s search, advertising, video and mobile phone OS give it overwhelming dominance in the distribution of information.
  3. Protection of information:  Follows from Googles dominance in distribution.  It can down rank damaging information while opponents often have hacked information distributed by Google.
  4. Manipulation of information:  Google algorithms routinely present search results that do not not properly represent reality. It also appears that Google funded proxies often distribute information that is misleading or outright false.  Democracies and other political entities have very limited abilities in this regard as they do not control enough information distribution.
  5. Information Disturbance, Degradation and Denial. Google again clearly has the advantage here. This follows simply because democratic governments have few extremely limited means to distribute information when compared to Google.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

How is hybrid information warfare any different between normal lobbying and advertising?  Just as there are laws against unattributed,deceptive or misleading advertising, the same principles follow.  If an information monopoly  engages in any sort of deception, directly or indirectly it crosses into the realm of information warfare.  Is it illegal? I’ll let experts decide.

YOU’VE GOT THREATS! Therefore We Must be on to Something

This is some funny shit. The below article apparently triggered the threat of defamation lawsuit.

Is Google Running Hybrid Information Warfare Attack on EU Parliament? 

Obviously we’re getting close. Yes I know this is bullshit. (Google wouldn’t warn me)  But clearly we’ve struck a nerve with someone close to Google and/or proxy groups.  Be a love. Help us run this down won’t you?  I’d love to mercilessly mock this person.

From our unpublished comments page.

Author Comment In Response To Submitted On
Select comment articlesema
articlesema.wordpress.comx
3358e489@emailna.co
89.238.154.118
David, why do so many of your statements of ‘fact’ have a question mark at the end?

“Is Google Running Hybrid Information Warfare Attack on EU Parliament?”

I would conclude, from your headline and the text within, that they are. With that in mind, I believe that Google’s reputation has been tarnished by your baseless accusations.

A number of people and companies you’ve been writing about in recent months (with your usual generous use of question marks and other weasel words) are very focused on what you’re writing here. I can say with certainty that some don’t like what they see.

So, a word to the wise. This blog may be hosted in the US but you are making a conscious decision to publish to the whole world. This means that things can’t [Can] get awfully annoying for you in other jurisdictions.

I humbly suggest that you restrict your blog to readers in the US moving forward, the law will be easier for you to understand there. I can’t offer the same assurances for the dozens of other countries where defamation is handled with much broader strokes.

Is Google Running Hybrid Information Warfare Attack on EU Parliament?

“Google is the first imperialist power of the 21st Century” – Anonymous Comment.

Time is of the essence here.  Therefore this is just a rough outline of an argument that I would love to see this fleshed out by researchers and/or an investigative body of the EU. It also likely has more than the usual amount of typos.

My hypothesis is that Google lobbying has crossed the rubicon and is now indistinguishable from the kind of hybrid war and information war conducted by hostile states, foreign intelligence services, and terror groups.  Although Google doesn’t (yet) conduct kinetic operations, its activities seem to nicely fit all the other accepted tenets of hybrid war.  Especially in the use of proxies (“little green men”) and information manipulation, disturbance, degradation and denial.

IMHO Google’s machinations in the debate over the proposed EU copyright directive are so far beyond the pale it’s an open question whether Google as now constituted is compatible with free and functioning democracies. To a lesser extent almost all Silicon Valley firms employ these same sort of lobbying techniques.  Certainly these firms lend support to Google in these campaigns.  They don’t say no anyway.  Depending on your viewpoint there now exists a  sort of “Sandhill Pact” or “Sandhill Axis”  that is increasingly willing to undermine democratic processes through fakery and misinformation.

If you consider the Information Space as the 21st century theatre of war, Google is clearly the dominant power.  They have more resources than all nations states put together. Although democracies can be attacked and destroyed through kinetic warfare they appear to be even more vulnerable to information warfare.

Is time to seriously consider actions by Google in the “information space” as threats to national security?

Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyberwarfare with other influencing methods, such as fake news, diplomacy and foreign electoral intervention. By combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution. –Wikipedia Contributors.

While on first brush this may seem rather strong to compare Google interventions in the democratic processes of sovereign nations as warfare.  But this is largely because most people have a 19th century view of warfare as purely kinetic operations.  In the last 50 years the information component of war has grown in importance.  In the last 10 years it is arguably it  the most important and effective component of modern warfare.

I’m confident both United States and Russian military thinkers would agree that nations on the periphery of the Russian federation have been yanked in out of the American sphere of influence largely via hybrid/information warfare.  Kinetic operations were only used as a last resort.  Think of simmering conflicts in Ukraine and Georgia.  While ISIL has used stunning displays of violence to claim and hold territory, the group largely used this to further psychological campaigns and thus weaken opposing security forces. These forces “melted away” with little kinetic warfare. ISIL was able to expand its territory dramatically with a few thousand fighters.  If you step back from the violence, ISIL has largely conducted an information war.

Kinetic operations are relatively unimportant in modern warfare, so even though Google lacks kinetic elements, the rest of it’s operations are strikingly similar to the techniques used by state actors and terrorist groups.

Remember that a group or nation does not need to gain territory or achieve a clear victory to benefit from hybrid war. Simply weakening “adjacent” nations or opponents may produce tangible benefits.

Use of Proxies

Proxies have long been used in warfare. Russian czars and the Cossacks.  US and Hmong.  Hybrid warfare importantly relies on the use of proxies not just for kinetic operations but also in information warfare.  As noted in the wikipedia description of hybrid warfare  “by combining kinetic operations with subversive efforts, the aggressor intends to avoid attribution or retribution.”  The lack of attribution is key to Google’s strategy here in battle over the Copyright Directive. They don’t want to be punished by MEPs for seeming to have directly attacked them.

On a macro level the proxy here is pretty obvious.   The SaveYourInternet.eu campaign is run by N-Square consulting. (Read the text carefully.)

This firms biggest client is Google. Though many of the other listed clients receive Google funding as well. Most notably CDT.

But on a micro level the campaign against Article 13 is much more disturbing. If you accept the premise the “real signal” or “information” the MEPs need for the vote is “what does the directive do” and “what do my constituents think”  fake constituents providing manipulated or outright false information are doubly effective. If they are once or twice removed proxies Google can again escape retribution.

As supporters of the EU copyright directive began to push back and note Google opposition, a countering wave of misinformation was released.  Here is a twitter account distributing highly misleading information.

This does not seem to be true as Google did not lobby for upload filters. Or if they did, they simultaneously lobbied against the overall directive. Further the tweet that Joe highlights is old and taken out of context. And Joe knows this (see below). It’s a quote about Content ID (YouTube’s proprietary rights management system.) But since we are discussing proxies here, what’s more important is Joe is a Google proxy.

Joe is executive director of  EDRI.  And EDRI is funded by Google.
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/29/google_doubles_eu_lobbying/

And EDRI  is campaigning very hard against the EU copyright directive.

Proxies manipulating,disturbing and degrading information are all hallmarks of hybrid information war. That is exactly what this guy is doing.

Now one tweet is simply an anecdote. But this guy is a key figure and there are many similar tweets. I’m confident that one could easily build a convincing connectivity graph of tweets, retweets, followers and compare that to academics, lobbyists and NGOs fron the Google Transparency Project.  Look at some of the organizations/individuals in reports below and see if they are weighing in on the copyright directive.

     Featured Project Google Academics Inc. July 11, 2017 Read article    

     Blog Google Funds Dozens of Groups Fighting Sex Trafficking Bill September 27, 2017 Read article    

     Featured Project Google’s Academic Influence in Europe Read article    

  Blog US Congressional Privacy “Debate” Dominated by Google-funded Voices February 20, 2018  

     Blog Investigating Google’s European Revolving Door January 25, 2017 Read article    

     Featured Project Google’s European Revolving Door June 4, 2016 Read article    


Weapons of Information Warfare 

In a 1999 student paper a graduate student at Carnegie-Mellon University (Megan Burns) succinctly laid out the basic categories of weapons used in Information warfare.  These were summarized from a broader work on information warfare by Martin Libicki(1995) It’s a succinct read that’s why I highlight it (hope ms. Burns got an A). The key five elements are:

Information Collection

Information Transport

Information Protection

Information Manipulation

Information Disturbance, Degradation and Denial.

In information warfare the side that is able to dominate in all these weapons categories is impossible to to defeat.  At least without resorting to kinetic operations.

Information Collection

Google by the design has an extraordinary advantage over the EU Parliament.  Its Android OS, Gmail, Website analytics and ad networks give it crucial information on virtually everyone on the planet.  The EU government?  Not so much.

Information Transport

More than 90% of all web searches are conducted through Google’s search engine.  Also the default mobile search in the Apple iOS is Google. Android is a wholly owned Google product.  Most people click on the first few results. Google does not have to block information to suppress opponent information. They simply down rank links. Look at the screenshots below. These searches were conducted using private browser and VPN to minimize “browsing bubble” effect on search results.

Information Protection

“By scrambling its own messages and unscrambling those of the other side, each side performs the quintessential act of information warfare, protecting its own view of reality while degrading that of the other side.” -Martin Libicki

Information warfare is about distorting reality.  To win in information warfare your reality must win out over opponents reality. Even actual positivist reality.

It’s not just enough to control the information flow. In information warfare a entity must protect information that the other side could use to damage your capabilities.  In the case of Google they are expert at “Google washing” or obscuring damaging information.   There is no better example of this than the Google’s own “transparency report” that confuses opponents searching for “Google Transparency Project.”  Which one would your typical MEP staffer click on? By outranking adversary’s competing information,  Google partially shields  itself from damaging information.  Remember Google controls the Information distribution channel.  Essentially Google through the power of its search engine has the power to encrypt damaging information will decrypting and disseminating information that harms its opponents.

Information Manipulation 

Information manipulation in the context of information warfare is the alteration of information with intent to distort the opponent’s picture of reality. This can be done using a number of technologies, including computer software for editing text, graphics, video, audio, and other information transport forms. Design of the manipulated data is usually done manually so those in command have control over what picture is being presented to the enemy, but the aforementioned technologies are commonly used to make the physical manipulation process faster once content has been decided. – Megan Burns

In this instance we see Google Proxy SaveYourInternet.eu conduct a three step process, that allows them enormous command and control over information directed at MEPs.

Step 1.  Google proxy creates disinformation and images to share.

Step 2.   Google proxy creates technological tools to distribute the misinformation.

Step 3. Some real constituents use these tools.  But the tools were also used en masse by unknown(?) allied parties.

Any particular country’s MEPs can be targeted by SaveYourInternet.eu. As images indicate Axel Voss was being automatically targeted when image was captured.

Information Disturbance, Degradation and Denial.

“Spoofing is a technique used to degrade the quality of the information being sent to the enemy. The enemy’s flow of information is disturbed by the introduction of a “spoof”, or fake message, into that flow. The technique works because it allows you to provide “false information to the targeted competitor’s collection systems to induce this organization to make bad decisions based upon this faulty information,” Cramer 1996

Thousands of tweets against copyright directive have been sent to MEPs from fake twitter accounts. “The enemy’s flow of information is disturbed by the introduction of a ‘spoof’, or fake message, into that flow.” Zoom out and there is an grander fake message: thousands of constituents are outraged by the copyright directive.

Finally as  evidenced by the automated tweets, SaveYourInternet.com targeted specific MEPs at different times. “provide false information to the targeted competitor’s collection systems to induce this organization to make bad decisions based upon this faulty information.” See targeted robo tweets below. 

Hundreds of automated tweets an hour directed at MEP Beatriz Becerra.  Quite surprising since it’s the wee hours of the morning and the frequency of tweets seems to be increasing!?

So you got it?  A Google funded webpage using automated tools to misinform and mislead a member of EU parliament, using what often appears to be fake twitter accounts.  What do we call this?

“Another way to disturb the information being received by one’s opponent is to introduce noise into the frequency they are using. Background noise makes it difficult for the enemy to separate the actual message from the noise.” -Burns 1999

Again see above.  The volume of automated tweets makes it impossible for MEPs to “hear” information that Google does not want them to hear.  Say voices of artists and other creators that might be in favor of the copyright reforms.

“Finally, overloading is technique used to deny information to the enemy in both military and civilian settings. By sending a volume of data to the enemy’s communication system that is too large for it to handle, one causes a crash or severe degradation of the system’s ability to deliver information. The system is so busy dealing with the overload, it is unable to deliver the essential information to those who need it.”

By flooding MEPs with thousands of Spam messages, phone calls and emails, the fake information overwhelms all other information that might be useful to MEPs as they consider this bill.

Conclusion

The EU should investigate Google as their actions and those of their apparent proxies bear the hallmarks of hybrid information warfare.  The future of democracy in the EU is at stake.  These techniques could easily (and probably have been) replicated by state actors interested in undermining EU on other issues.

EU MEPs Hacked: More than Half #DeleteArt13 Tweets Appear to be from Sock Puppets

The twitter account used in this example is largely dormant.  Except every once in a while it is used to promote some suspect contest or website.  Thousands of tweets use this exact same template. 

To be clear. This is not a robust statistical survey.  It’s based on my random sampling of tweets to MEPs.  But it looks like in any 24 hour period the majority of tweets to MEPs opposing article 13 are coming from suspect accounts.  I encourage others to verify this.  Once the July 5th voting date passes, I encourage the European Parliament to investigate the use of suspect twitter accounts to influence voting. Why?  Because this is an attempt to subvert your democratic processes.  MEPs and staff may contact me and I can suggest a couple approaches to rigorously analyze this. Remember that MEP Julia Reda, SaveTheINternet.eu, Copyright4Creativity and EDRI (An EC funded civil society) Is actively sharing links to robo tweet, email and call MEPs.

This account is newly created twitter account and links to a tumbler blog that was created the same day.  The photo depicts the musical duo “I Don’t Know How You Found Me.”  But this is not their official account. Hundreds of accounts used in the twitter campaign against Article 13 use other peoples photos as profile pics. This has marks of professionalism as they don’t actually claim to be “I Don’t Know How You Found Me.” But the account description is: “How did you find this account.”   A little bit of thought went into creating this account. 

Suspect accounts?

  1. Newly created accounts
  2. Very low number of followers
  3. Claim country different than language used in tweets
  4. Accounts dormant for long periods of times
  5. Very little unique content (Only retweets etc)

O

5 out of 6 tweets directed at MEP Axel Voss are identical.  

Automated generation of tweets.

The vast majority of the tweets are clearly coming from an automated source as they have identical formats.

Those operating the robo tweet operations seems to periodically target specific country MEPs. 

Specific MEPs and Countries Targeted

The last 24 hours suggest that whoever is automating these sock puppet tweets has focused on Irish MEPs.  Previously we saw Portuguese and Polish MEPs targeted.  This is clearly not an organic movement.  Some entity with vast resources is directing this campaign.

 

 

#SaveYourInternet Dog Whistles to Far Right with Pepe: Desperation or Stupidity?

One of dozens of memes featuring “Pepe” urging calls to EU members of parliament against copyright directive. The image is recycled from a Southern Poverty Law Center listed group. 

For those of you not familiar with meme culture and Pepe the Frog you might want to start here.  The point of this article is not to debate whether every time some kid uses the Pepe meme it is racist.  Indeed as the linked article notes Pepe began life as a harmless comic character. However there is no doubt that Pepe has been adopted by many far right groups as a kind of anti-PC signifier. Or worse. The creator of Pepe recently killed off Pepe in his comic strip because he was distressed by its recent association with racism and antisemitism.

That is why it is absolutely stunning that opponents of the EU Copyright Directive Article 13 seem to be cultivating support from the far right by using Pepe memes.

There’s always a possibility that the ever insular copyleft doesn’t realize that not all “meme” culture is cute kittens and doesn’t understand the significance of Pepe.  Indeed Hanlon’s razor warns: never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence and stupidity.

SaveYourInternet.eu website allows anyone to repeatedly robo call MEP.  MEPs of their choosing.  So they can target specific MEPs.  This is how they hack democracy. 

However anecdotal reports show that the MEPs that have been targeted with automated robo calls have largely been Eastern European MEPs with significant anti-immigrant or white nationalist movements.

Further we have previously documented the Copyleft and Pirate associations with the far right.

See here:

German Pirate Party MEP harassment of the Anne Frank foundation.

https://thetrichordist.com/2016/04/28/eu-pirate-party-mep-julia-reda-germany-doesnt-want-to-pay-for-diary-of-anne-frank/

And of course How do pirates tie their shoes?  In little nazis of course…

https://thetrichordist.com/2017/09/26/why-is-it-every-time-we-turn-over-a-pirate-rock-white-nationalists-nazis-and-bigots-scurry-out/

What is clear is that the “don’t break the internet” crowd has cried wolf one too many times.  And their attempts to raise a cybermob are falling short.  As of yesterday there were only 800 #DeleteArticle13 tweets on twitter.  And a cursory examination shows that about 80% of those tweets are from sock puppet accounts.

So is the appeal to far right trolls design or desperation?   SaveYourInternet.eu are you purposely targeting far right twitter users?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Update. So it is not stupidity. It was plan all along. Looks like Pirate Party MEP has been reaching out to far right. See screen capture of tweet below:

 

Meanwhile in Europe Is Google Attempting to Hack the EU Parliament with Robo Calls, Emails and Fake News?

 

 

Think it’s a coincidence that Google’s search algorithm returns exclusively negative or outright fake news on EU proposed copyright revisions? 

Google is the first imperialist power of the 21st century.  It has no qualms about subverting democratic processes whenever those processes threaten it’s profits.  Most of the time we see these power grabs in the US.  For instance Google used stolen emails to derail a Mississippi State investigation into it’s advertising practices. Most recently Google used it’s pet Senator (Ron Wyden) to try to derail an anti child sex trafficking bill. Wyden was one of only two Senators to oppose the overwhelmingly popular bill.  WTF right?  Makes you wonder what they have on him.

There are so many cases of Google strong arming government officials it would take fifty pages to list them all.  Suffice it to say that in almost all these cases Google upends the democratic processes when government actions in some small way threaten googles internet advertising and web hosting businesses.  From Google’s perspective it makes sense as Google is willing to monetizes any and all web traffic with no oversight, and with no regard to how abhorrent that traffic may be. Google does not give a shit that it may be enabling child prostitution rings, the opioid crisis, or radicalizing lone wolf terrorists.  Any regulation that requires even minimal oversight and might cut into Google’s $110 billion yearly profit(profit not revenue) is attacked by Googles vast network of lobbyists, astroturf groups, google-funded think tanks, paid bloggers, and academics.

The last few years we have seen Google turn their efforts towards subverting democratic processes outside the US.  In some ways they have been more effective in places like EU where they are unaccustomed to the kind of subversive political/academic/NGO practices honed by Big Tobacco.  In the U.S. we have been partially inoculated. Europeans fall hook line and sinker for this shit.

Case in point.

The EU parliament legal affairs committee recemt;u voted to approve a new copyright directive  giving authors, performers and songwriters much more control over how their work appears online. The directive would require online platforms to pro-actively manage their platforms so that creators could decide when and if their content appears on digital platforms and under what financial terms.

This does not make Google/YouTube very happy because currently they enjoy an massive subsidy from creators because they essentially use whatever they want  whenever they want. As usual they claim that it is their “users” who are doing the infringing. Not Google. Never mind that Google is making billions slinging ads against all this unlicensed content.

As the directive comes up for a vote in the full parliament, I now see Google deploying the exact same tactics against the Copyright Directive that they have used against copyright measures in the United States.  For the EU readers let me give you some examples from the US and you can tell me if you see similarities in their attack on the copyright directive in EU.

Fake grassroots organizations.  In the U.S. Google has consistently used  groups like Fight For The Future.   Fight For The Future purports to be a grassroots organization but it is actually run by a Google lobbyist. Despite claiming to have millions of followers, when they tried to stage a protest in San Francisco before a copyright roundtable they couldn’t get a single real individual to show up. Astroturf.  Fake.

https://thetrichordist.com/2016/05/13/astroturf-fight-for-the-future-is-toast-anti-copyright-protest-gets-9-rsvps-on-facebook/

Twitter bots:   During the last round of Copyright Office hearings on safe harbors we observed that the vast majority of tweets against copyright reform were coming from anonymous accounts that were only active when copyright issues were being considered. Fake.

Robo Emails/Comments: Fight for the Future the astroturf group run by Google lobbyist has repeatedly bombarded congress, and federal agencies with identical automated emails and comments. We demonstrated that the “tool” they provided from their website, didn’t verify identity; allowed users from outside US to vote; and allowed repeated voting by simply reloading page.

https://thetrichordist.com/2016/04/19/exactly-86000-identical-comments-the-illegal-comment-bombing-of-dmca-notice-takedown-review-by-google-proxy-fight-for-the-future/

Paid Academic Research.  This has got a lot of press in the US.  But basically Google has been paying academics that then produce papers that it uses to lobby US and EU governments.  Many of these papers are poorly researched and little more than opinion pieces.  See here:

https://googletransparencyproject.org/articles/google-academics-inc

Robo Calls/Boiler Rooms:  I was in a US Senate office in May when Fight For The Future was conducting a phone campaign on net neutrality.  If you go to the Fight For The Future website you are eventually prompted to put in your phone number and then an automated system rings a (your?) senator and connects your phone to the call.  The senate office can not verify your phone number, exchange or area code.  Net neutrality is extremely popular policy and even an astroturf group like FFTF should have no problem finding people to phone senators. However… Two staffers were handling phone calls right in the lobby, and I could hear the callers.  The Senator hails from a state in the deep south.  Yet not a single caller seemed to share the Senators accent. I mentioned this to the staffers. Their reply: “Yeah we think these are professionals.”  To  be clear.  I don’t know if these callers were part of the the Fight For The Future phone campaign.  But it was during this period.  And they certainly seemed to be reading from a similar script.

I just checked and these tools are still live.  I sent the email above despite the fact it’s a fake email address.  I then reloaded the page used my real email, phone number and zip code and I was able to place a call to congress.  Strangely I was connected to a random congressional office ( Not related to my phone number, IP location or the postal code.)  I told the polite staffer who answered the call that I was very concerned about Federal Emergency Management Agency using high altitude aircraft to spray mind altering chemicals on my hometown as it was producing strange behavior in my cats.  All twelve of them.  Poor staffers. ( I later identified myself and told the staffer I was conducting an experiment for a article I was writing).

I can almost guarantee you that Google is using the exact same techniques to overwhelm MEPs phones and emails at this very moment.

DON’T LET GOOGLE HACK YOUR DEMOCRACY!

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UPDATE

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In fact there is at least one of the web pages producing robo calls. This is from the Google proxy Open Rights.  I have not tested it but reports from readers is that it works and there is no limit on the number of calls. And email addresses are not verified.