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Intelligence Agency Targets Public Opinion With Polls, Likes, Hits and Other Social Tricks

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According to a new report based on Edward Snowden leaks by the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald, Britain’s GCHQ has developed a library of tools that allow the agency to aggressively manipulate the public.

According to the report, British agents can rig online polls, make websites and select videos appear more popular than they are, peep at private Facebook photos, spy on eBay auctions and Skype calls and, among still more dirty tricks, impersonate targets’ personal email addresses.

The GCHQ is Britain’s equivalent of the NSA, and given the history of cooperation between the two agencies, it’s not a wild leap to guess that the U.S. may have similar capabilities or at least the means to achieve them.

Greenwald reports further that British authorities outside GCHQ might not even know what’s going on:

As for oversight, serious questions have been raised about whether top national security officials even know what GCHQ is doing. 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.”

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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