The hacking collective known as "Anonymous" has published more explosive documents detailing a UK-based psyop to create a "large-scale information secret service" in Europe in order to combat "Russian propaganda" — which has been blamed for everything from Brexit to Trump winning the 2016 US election to this month's anti-Macron "Yellow Vest" protests.
We previously detailed the first trove of documents which were dumped online November 5th to the site Cyberguerilla, revealing the private UK organization with deep government ties, the Integrity Initiative, to be engaged in an aggressive campaign to organize "clusters" of journalists across the West engaged in “counter-propaganda” efforts on social media networks and in media. And now a new trove of leaked Integrity Initiative documents has been dumped online Friday.
This week the Integrity Initiative and its founding parent organization, the Institute for Statecraft — which is known for its close relationship with the UK military and defense officials — is at the center of debate in the House of Commons over its anti-Corbyn and anti-Labour smears involving labeling party leader Jeremy Corbyn a “useful idiot” for Moscow, even while the company is a recipient of official Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funding.
The early November online leaks of confidential Integrity Initiative documents were the first to reveal the UK government's relationship to the private project devoted to "fighting Russian disinformation". According to The Guardian:
FCO funding of the Integrity Initiative was revealed by a set of stolen documents posted online last month by hackers under the banner of the Anonymous hacktivist collective. The organisation has not disputed their authenticity, but in a statement suggested that Russia was responsible for the hack and that Moscow had used its media channels to amplify its impact.
We noted previously that the work done by the Initiative — which claims it is not affiliated with government bodies, is done under "absolute secrecy via concealed contacts embedded throughout British embassies," according to memos in the November leak. It does, however, admit to working with unnamed British "government agencies."
In the Commons earlier, I asked Alan Duncan why taxpayers money had been used by the so-called 'Integrity Initiative' to disseminate political attacks from its Twitter site (1/2). pic.twitter.com/zQNOPeQOMn— Emily Thornberry (@EmilyThornberry) December 12, 2018
Friday's document dump via "Anonymous" is the third such release, and already some bombshell information has come to light.
The geopolitical blog, Moon of Alabama, was the first to unearth and analyze one of the more interesting among the document trove:
A "strictly confidential" proposal by the French company Lexfo to spread the Integrity Initiative's state-sponsored propaganda through an offensive online influence campaigns for a monthly pay per language of €20-40.000. The proposal also includes an offer for "counter activism" through "negative PR, legal actions, ethical hack back, etc." for €50,000 per month.
The document is marked "Strictly confidential" and lays out a "comprehensive action proposal" which repeatedly invokes Russian state funded media outlets RT and Sputnik as enemy disinformation to be defeated.
The proposal touts the ability of an Integrity Initiative partner — the French cybersecurity firm Lexfo — to create "indirect" and "untraceable" news content, including its ability to conduct "naming and shaming" campaigns targeting "allies" of "Russian disinformation".
Presumably "allies" means any person or entity that happens to align with the Russian viewpoint on any given issue. The shaming campaigns and counter-information operations will be conducted "across hundreds of credible media outlets".
Alarmingly, the document notes that:
"where we lack platforms to publish our content... we will create news media sites serving our objectives..."
Again, both the contracting cybersecurity firm and the Integrity Initiative's role in literally creating media sites out of thin air for the purpose of "serving our objectives" will remain "untraceable".
As part of the "infowar campaign" teams of media operatives across Europe and the U.S. will "monitor" and edit social media pages as well as Wikipedia entries, according to the leaked document.
"Hot topics" which especially need to be monitored include the Ukraine conflict and any situation wherein "pro-Western local politicians" could be swayed by "Russian-backed trolls"
The teams will engage in "special operations" which are listed as:
- negative PR
- legal actions
- ethical hack back
And which populations are to be targeted? The document specifically mentions seeking out a Russian audience alongside Western countries: "This plan should be implemented in every targeted country and language, including Russia."
These "influence operations" come at a price, according to the document. One figure which is floated is a monthly pay per language fee of €20-40.000, making it classic government subsidized mass propaganda (again, the company has been confirmed as receiving FCO funding).
Given that this looks like merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of similar such UK and US funded "combating disinformation" projects conducted in partnership with private entities out there, these initiatives have most likely already been active for years.