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EPHEMERA  November 2012

EPHEMERA November 2012

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Subject:

28/11 Seminar: Corporate Spying & Activist Intelligence

From:

Stevphen Shukaitis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Stevphen Shukaitis <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 26 Nov 2012 23:11:45 +0000

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Corporate Spying & Activist Intelligence
University of Essex :: November 28th, 2012
Colchester Campus :: Room 5N.4.7 :: 2-4PM

Speakers:
Eveline Lubbers, University of Bath, author of Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark
Tom Anderson, Researcher, Corporate Watch

The exposure of Mark Kennedy as an infiltrator of activist groups made 
headlines early 2011. When confronted Kennedy admitted to having been a 
spy for seven years. Using the name Mark Stone, he had embedded himself 
in the environmental movement, the organizing of summit protests, social 
movement organizing elsewhere in Europe. The Mark Kennedy story is an 
exemplary case, with the infiltrator as a facilitator, crossing the line 
towards the role of an agent provocateur. Press coverage was huge 
resulting in a series of official reviews. However, all of the official 
reviews neglected the aspects of corporate spying that make out the 
background of this operation.

The Kennedy case reveals the increasingly blurring boundaries between 
public and private policing and puts the grey area of corporate 
intelligence in the spotlight. The set of secret units Kennedy used to 
work for was founded explicitly to satisfy the needs of companies 
targeted by activists. What is more, the companies involved – such as 
electricity suppliers and airline companies – also hire former police 
and intelligence staff with long track records in monitoring activist 
groups to deal with security issues.

The Kennedy case is in no way unique, it is just the latest exposure in 
a long line of similar stories of intelligence operations in the UK and 
elsewhere, conducted either by the police or by private contractors. And 
it will not be the last case. Wikileaks has revealed how private 
intelligence company Stratfor is keeping monitoring the Yes Men and 
their campaigns for the survivors of the Bhopal disaster. Closer to 
home, the Tobacco Control Research Group investigates the tactics of the 
tobacco industry and its allies to undermine the governments health 
policies.

This seminar examines the worrying trend of conjunctions between the 
state and the corporate world aimed at suppressing critical voices that 
are indispensable in a democratic society.
Developing activist intelligence and methods to counter covert corporate 
strategy as a field of research is inherently difficult, given that the 
original source material is – almost by definition – hard to access, 
maybe secret, and often difficult to comprehend. Intelligence operations 
necessarily take place in secret, under-cover. Data on such operations 
are confidential by nature, prepared for the client's ‘eyes-only’. 
Discovery of proof behind stories and controversies that surface in the 
media is essential to put the events in perspective and understand the 
wider context. But new research needs to be initiated too. The 
importance of the issues at stake calls for a more active role for 
social scientists, investigative journalists, politicians and NGOs, and 
others concerned about the role of public protest in society.

Sponsored by the Essex Centre for Work, Organization, and Society 
(http://www.essex.ac.uk/ebs/research/emc) and Essex Community Advice 
(http://www.essex.ac.uk/ebs/eca/)

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