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06.09.15

European Patent Office (EPO) Now Uses Keyloggers to Spy on Staff

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keyboard with sphere

Summary: Having contracted the crackers-connected Control Risks Group (CRG), EPO starts acting like a cybercrime gang, adopting similar tools

THE management of the European Patent Office has become truly militarised, complete with spy connections. It is not just censoring E-mail anymore (an earlier effort to suppress the staff, as we recalled the other day), it is actually spying on E-mail contents and on keystrokes too. They are behaving like a bunch of crackers, much like the GCHQ and the NSA.

“EPO keyloggers, like any keyloggers for that matter, are so nasty that if you are not rich and powerful you can get sent to prison over it.”The managers at the EPO must not be technical and they don’t seem to have grasped the Streisand Effect. EPO keyloggers, like any keyloggers for that matter, are so nasty that if you are not rich and powerful you can get sent to prison over it. This whole affair is quickly becoming reminiscent of the CIA’s cracking of Senate PCs (Windows) in order to derail the Senate’s study of the CIA’s torture abuses. It is similar because this never led to any punishment. It is wrongly assumed by people in suits that they are magically above the law.

EPO management must be scared and “things are getting out of hand there,” to quote one who attended EPO protests. We know that the EPO uses keyloggers because right now the German mediawrites about it. We don’t have an English transslation yet, but to quote the original (in German): “In der kommenden Woche wird der Präsident des Europäischen Patentamtes (Epa) nach Brüssel reisen. Dort empfängt ihn der Rechtsausschuss der Europaparlamentarier zu einem “Austausch von Ansichten”, so heißt es auf der Tagesordnung. Benoît Battistelli soll über neueste Entwicklungen im Patentrecht sprechen, über die neuen Patentgerichte und manch andere Reform.

“An Gesprächsstoff über rechtliche Fragen dürfte es aber auch angesichts der andauernden Krise zwischen Battistelli und vielen der etwa 7000 Mitarbeitern in München, Berlin, Wien und Den Haag nicht mangeln. Seit Battistelli ein umfangreiches Reformwerk in Gang gesetzt hat, das unter anderem das Beförderungssystem umkrempelt, gibt es vehemente Auseinandersetzungen. Nun kommt ein neues heikles Thema hinzu: mutmaßliche heimliche Überwachung. Denn einem internen Schreiben zufolge, das der SZ vorliegt, wurden Ende vergangenen Jahres am Epa öffentlich zugängliche Computer ausgespäht: mit Kameras und mit sogenannten Keyloggern. Damit lässt sich das aufzeichnen, was der Benutzer schreibt, welche Seiten er ansteuert und wie er kommuniziert.”

Well, it only gets worse, doesn’t it? The more EPO management tries to suppress and prevent a crisis, the more irrational moves it makes and the more of a crisis it leads to.

More spying in EPO (using Control Risks) is being reported in De Volkskrant. SUEPO has translations [PDF] and says that the paper “reports on the information that the EPO has commissioned the company Control Risks to investigate elected representatives of the Staff Committee and/or Staff Union.”

Control Risks and the EPO are wasting their time (and European taxpayers’ money) on witch-hunting. I myself do not know my sources, so unless something revealing or self-incriminating is done, there ought to be no way for these government-connected spies to get a clue. Can we ever reveal our sources? No, because we ourselves don’t know them. The Control Risks contract is total waste of taxpayers’ money and it’s a shame that the EPO hired this firm. Will it show up in the financial reports of the EPO? What will the public say and what will EPO management have to show for it?

Control Risks’ involvement is a huge abomination because, as we showed this morning, it is likely that the British firm is connected (through staff) to some folks in GCHQ. Does the EPO really wants its name and brand associated with notorious crackers (whom British courts found to be in violation of British law)? There’s no risk that surveillance through Google et al. would reveal IP addresses, even if sources don’t use Tor. Wait and watch how the EPO has no positive outcome, only a big budget drain and a stain on its name.

“If you look at the public Internet site of SUEPO,” wrote one reader to us, “you can find an “Open Letter to Control Risks” [as we covered before]. On that basis, the information that Control Risks is involved is now in the public domain.” Well, EPO staff has already acknowledged this and we know which department reached out to these military-connected spies (John Martin's). This ought to give enough reasons for staff to stage another protest at the British Consulate, and this time with no qualm or reluctance. The British military establishment is now at (a secret) war against EPO staff.

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