Summary: The European Patent Office may be getting a lot more than people care to realise, for Control Risks Group (CRG) has very powerful connections in the United Kingdom
THE continued militarisation of the EPO's investigation unit serves to intimidate potential sources. It’s reign by fear, or by terror. It’s a fishing expedition against sources. Not only Benoît Battistelli (criticised by EU-hostile British politicians) but the British government too was trying to stop EPO protests (at the British Consulate) earlier this year by issuing a statement that IP Kat, a London-based blog, published at the end of February. Any Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) involvement could be excused by trying to frame protests as a “national security” issue while targeting of journalists by GCHQ, which goes a long way back, may go on. To cite just two articles from 2015:
- GCHQ captured emails of journalists from top international media
- New Snowden Leak Reveals GCHQ Collected Emails Of Journalists At NYT, WaPo, Guardian, BBC And Elsewhere
When the EPO signed a deal (or contract) with Control Risks Group it may as well bought access to intelligence agencies, via people who are privately-employed and mostly unaccountable (there is no oversight neither from the government nor the public). Private spies, who are like digital mercenaries, don’t obey rules because by definition they work secretly (no transparently), so hardly anyone would catch them even when the rules are flagrantly broken.
“For all we know, because Control Risks works with the Army, it probably has GCHQ contacts, hence it can use espionage capabilities versus journalism (an overkill for corporate goals).”For all we know, the British EPO manager who contracted Control Risks may have also gone with some of their staff to school, university, etc. Looking back at an article published a few days after the EPO protests were supposed to take place at the British Consulate, Context would not “confirm whether or not its employees included ex-GCHQ employees.”
Context is one among a small bunch of digital mercenaries in the UK; The same goes for Control Risks Group, which is mentioned as follows:
When asked whether the UK government might also be conducting cyber espionage on UK banks, Context declined to respond. It also declined to comment on FIPR’s statement about CBEST or to confirm whether or not its employees included ex-GCHQ employees.
The other three firms did not respond to the Bureau’s request for comment.
A further eight companies are accredited as providers of “threat intelligence”, including BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Control Risks Group, Digital Shadows and Mandiant.
“BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Control Risks Group, Digital Shadows and Mandiant” are mentioned by name. For all we know, because Control Risks works with the Army, it probably has GCHQ contacts, hence it can use espionage capabilities versus journalism (an overkill for corporate goals). The EPO does not need to acquire NSA-like powers of its own. It just needs to sign contracts with Control Risks et al. and since GCHQ known or even renowned for targeting journalists (Edward Snowden says GCHQ is worse than the NSA), it is possible that they will silently help Control Risks — and by extension — the EPO. Control Risks is trying to identify our sources. They’re attacking journalists as though they’re terrorists. Looking at the 2003 book “Global Intelligence: The World’s Secret Services Today“, we find that “a network of private consultancies — Control Risks, Sandline, the Hakluyt Foundation — was already known for recruiting retired intelligence personnel.”
We would hardly be surprised if some top positions at Control Risks are presently and/or formerly occupied by former GCHQ staff (or its sibling entities). It’s called revolving doors. Some people have already dubbed Battistelli “Blatterstelli” (for similarities to the FIFA scandal), demonstrating just how grim things may soon get. We have a lot more to say on this topic, so stay tuned. █