Category: Conjecture (Page 1 of 2)
I put together a post looking at sources for a software application used by the Chairman of the State Duma of Russian Vyacheslav Volodin.
“Coming at the peak of the meeting rallies, the new team of Vyacheslav Volodin radically revised the attitude towards working with the network audience, placing a stake on systemic manipulation of public opinion through the tools of new media.
This work was recognized so effective that it was decided to send these weapons outside – to the American and European audiences.
According to sources close to the presidential administration, preliminary work began in the fall of 2013. The strategy was agreed upon by Volodin, after which they selected the performers and began to create the infrastructure.
Curators of the external direction are called those who were previously engaged in the domestic market. Work on the West is only just unfolding, but already now it is becoming noticeable.”
So their premise is that the technology infrastructure developed after internet crackdowns in Russia in 2011 was so successful they exported it. And this written in 2014, which seems all the more prescient.
But as we know, Americans were developing similar technologies at a government level in 2010/2011 time period as well. (Also HB Gary leak.)
Here’s that mention of India and Thailand again:
“At the same time, the hired Russian structures themselves use subcontractors around the world. While it was possible to reliably establish their working contacts with groups in Germany, India and Thailand. Most likely we are talking about natives of Russia.
Now the system that is being built in America and Europe exists in a test mode. Mostly they are engaged in classical information-analytical work.
The so-called “Anonymous International” group has laid out some of the documentation, possibly related to the activity of one of the main “American” teams (download the folder at http://www.sendspace.com/file/q3jft3).
This is the new, external department of the “nest of trolls,” which was exposed in September 2013 in an investigation (“http://www.novayagazeta.ru/politics/59889.html) of Novaya Gazeta.””
(Note: The sendspace link above to Anonymous International/Shaltay Boltay leaks is not functional.)
“At the end of May, a group of hackers from the “Anonymous International” began publishing a series of documents received from the hacked electronic mailboxes of Olga Dzalba, a financier of the Internet Research Agency (AIE), a structure based in the suburbs of St. Petersburg – Olgino – in the summer of 2013, the order of the head of the company “Concord” Eugene Prigozhin. In addition, in the open access were reports on the work done, addressed to a man by the name of Volodin.
Vedomosti , by the way, links the Kremlin’s adopted strategy for manipulating public consciousness through new media with the name of Vyacheslav Volodin, the first deputy head of the presidential administration.
As it follows from the documents analyzed by Fontanka.ru , under a single management a scheme was built out of Internet agencies with hundreds of paid bloggers and commentators, as well as several media outlets in Russia and Ukraine. Their maintenance is estimated at 33.5 million rubles a month, of which more than 17 million – in cash. Financial documents are full of notes “not of.” – Apparently, “not officially.””
“Mr Volodin is widely considered one of the country’s most influential and ambitious hardliners.
He is a deputy prime minister and the government’s chief of staff, and as such is the brains behind Vladimir Putin’s presidential election campaign.”
“In October 21, 2010 he was appointed Deputy Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev. as well as—after the dismissal of Sergey Sobyanin in connection with his approval to the Mayor of Moscow—Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office.”
Interesting, via same Wikipedia source:
“In April 28, 2014, following the Crimean status referendum, the U.S. Treasury put Volodin on the Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN), a list of individuals sanctioned as “members of the Russian leadership’s inner circle.” The sanctions freeze any assets he holds in the US and ban him from entering the United States.
On 12 May 2014, Volodin was added to the European Union sanctions list due to his role in the 2014 Crimean crisis. He is barred from entering the EU countries, and his assets in the EU have to be frozen.”
“Vyacheslav Volodin was brought in to mastermind Putin’s victory in the 2012 presidential election after the Bolotnaya protests in December 2011.”
More links and quotes I compiled regarding 2011 Russian election protests.
“He has mostly kept in the shadows, especially since he became first deputy chief of staff in the presidential administration in a reshuffle following the start of mass protests over alleged fraud in a December 4 parliamentary election.
Volodin’s challenge is to ensure Putin wins 50 percent of the votes on March 4 to avoid a second-round runoff, which could undermine his authority.”
United Russia links.
“While Volodin has largely stayed in the shadows, he is considered one of Russia’s most influential officials, a puppet master who has directed the parliament’s work and engineered elections. He was also widely seen as a driving force behind a string of draconian laws in response to massive anti-Putin protests in 2011-2012.”
Regarding Putin election situation of 2012, BBC September 2011:
“Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he has accepted a proposal to stand for president in March 2012.
Addressing the ruling United Russia party’s annual congress, Mr Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev backed one another to switch roles.”
… “He had already served two terms as president before Mr Medvedev took over in 2008. Mr Putin was barred by the constitution from running for a third consecutive term.”
… “Under recent constitutional amendments, the new president will have a six-year mandate rather than four years as before. He or she will be able to serve no more than two consecutive terms, meaning Mr Putin could be in office until 2024.”
… “However, along with genuine messages of support, a #putin2012 hashtag appeared which raised suspicions of manipulation among bloggers.
It was being promoted, in part, by tweeters who had registered on Twitter on the same date, 27 June 2011, some within seconds of each other, with account locations that spanned Russia.”
My current operating theory goes something like this, vis-a-vis Russia.
- Internet crackdowns followed popular anti-corruption protests
- Youth movements were organized/re-directed to support pro-statist agenda.
- Those movements perfected techniques to astro-turf and manipulate media locally, and exported their techniques to Europe and United States.
- Internet Research Agency, and friends, are examples of organizational models to perpetuate those techniques and missions abroad.
- IRA infitrated social movements and social media in US using same combination of tools.
- Somehow “coincidentally” these IRA et al efforts dovetailed perfectly with a certain presidential campaign environment.
“But 2011 began with the Arab Spring chasing out the rulers of Tunisia and Egypt, and ended with Moscow’s middle classes taking to the streets in Facebook-organized protests against electoral corruption. Facebook did more than just make it easier to organize; in a year of popular revolution, it let some Russians feel they were part of something bigger, that they had a chance. It was a profound shock to Putin’s government.”
… “Opposition websites were hit with powerful and coordinated distributed denial of service attacks, trolling, and disinformation. Deluged with pro-government propaganda, local news platforms basically gave up trying to separate fact from political fiction. The sheer volume of fake news, plus its sophistication, meant algorithms could no longer tell the difference.”
Wikipedia Internet in Russia article:
“In September 2011 Russia overtook Germany on the European market with the highest number of unique visitors online. In March 2013 a survey found that Russian had become the second most commonly used language on the web. “
Same Slate source as above:
… “In 2012, new censorship measures were brought in, using technologies that indiscriminately block addresses and inspect each packet of data.”
Wikipedia Internet Censorship in Russia article:
“Since 2012, Russia maintains a centralized internet blacklist (known as the “single register”) maintained by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor). The list is used for the censorship of individual URLs, domain names, and IP addresses. It was originally introduced to block sites that contain materials advocating drug abuse and drug production, descriptions of suicide methods, and containing child pornography. It was subsequently amended to allow the blocking of materials that are classified as extremist, call for illegal meetings, or contain other content deemed illegal.”
… “Internet service providers (ISPs) are held legally responsible for any illegal content that is accessible to their users (intermediary liability).”
… “A ban on all software and websites related to circumventing internet filtering in Russia, including VPN software, anonymizers, and instructions on how to circumvent government website blocking, was passed in 2017.”
… “Russia’s System of Operational-Investigatory Measures (SORM) requires telecommunications operators to install hardware provided by the Federal Security Service (FSB). It allow the agency to unilaterally monitor users’ communications metadata and content, including phone calls, email traffic and web browsing activity. Metadata can be obtained without a warrant. In 2014, the system was expanded to include social media platforms, and the Ministry of Communications ordered companies to install new equipment with Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) capability.”
… “As of January 2018, companies registered in Russia as “organizers of information dissemination”, such as online messaging applications, will not be permitted to allow unidentified users.”
Navalny, 2014, same Wikipedia source:
“In March 2014, in the midst of the Crimean crisis, the LiveJournal blog of Alexei Navalny, Kasparov.ru and Grani.ru were blocked by the government. These sites, which opposed the Russian government, were blocked for “making calls for unlawful activity and participation in mass events held with breaches of public order.””
“In August 2014, SORM-2 usage was extended to monitoring of social networks, chats and forums, requiring their operators to install SORM probes in their networks.”
… “The SORM device recommended by the FSB is named Omega. Equipment by Cellebrite appears to be in use. SORM also enables the use of mobile control points, a laptop that can be plugged directly into communication hubs and immediately intercept and record the operator’s traffic.”
… “Since 2010, intelligence officers can wiretap someone’s phones or monitor their Internet activity based on received reports that an individual is preparing to commit a crime. They do not have to back up those allegations with formal criminal charges against the suspect. According to a 2011 ruling, intelligence officers have the right to conduct surveillance of anyone who they claim is preparing to call for “extremist activity.””
Still uncertain what criteria were used to build this list, but it came out prior to the “official” famous Twitter House Democrats ‘exhibit B’ list, so seems worth documenting here. From Reddit user eye_josh, an October 2017 supposed Russian accounts list, across services.
There’s a line in a 2014 Buzzfeed article about some supposedly leaked documents relating to the Internet Research Agency that I keep puzzling over. It reads:
“The archetypes for the accounts are called Handkerchief, Gay Turtle, The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe, Left Breast, Black Breast, and Ass, for reasons that are not immediately clear.”
I’m unable to find any additional clarifying statements about what this means from other sources. Many repetitions of the same phrasing as this Buzzfeed article are available, but none explaining this.
- What is meant by ‘archetypes’ for accounts? Is it like a general model personality profile that operators use to create new false identities? (That’s what I’m assuming)
- What do each of the names refer to specifically? What are the archetypes?
- Where are the leaked emails (and English translations) of the specific documents which mention these ‘archetypes’?
Interesting conversation has developed here with some data protection guys (from personaldata.io), who offered this:
“If you want to “forum shop” as a data subject — which is only fair given that companies do it to avoid data protection laws — then you might consider VPNs and the like. I am not sure what level of legal protection this would afford you, this is a completely untested area of law (but I don’t expect it to remain so for much longer).”
There’s just something about data protection for me… it just fits in neatly with my own internal near future science fiction universe. It’s a world that sort of sets the imagination free with all the weird twisted possible outcomes which will develop as people experiment…
I had an old blog years ago that I’m happy in a lot of respects is no longer online. It was fun while it lasted, but some things make better memories.
One such memory I recently tracked down, and reading it thirteen years later, it sounds quite a lot like current events swirling around so-called ‘Russian meddling’, ‘troll factories’ and fake news.
I can really imagine having a team of like 5 people working for a PR company who spend like 40+ hours a week writing blog posts. Perhaps each person would distribute their entries over like 10 different fictional blogger identities. They could write on things like news stories, political agendas, different products, all kinds of crap. Each of their fictional blogger identities could talk about roughly the same set of topics, but from a slightly different perspective – but each retaining whatever essential core elements they are trying to describe. I imagine it would bre pretty effective too, that 50 reasonably well-written and frequently-updated blogs would have a fairly wide audience and impact on an audience, which would expand outward in a ripple effect, especially if they were aggressively cross-commenting on real people’s blogs as well.
[…] blogs are not constrained by facts, so the potential to unleash distorted information into the bloodstream of the America people is enormous. And I also forgot to mention that you could also rake in web-ad revenues while you’re doing all this.
— 3 Nov. 2004
So if I was some kind of weird PR company or a government agency trying to influence public opinion, I would totally set up some kind of network of conspiracy theorists, complete with websites, lectures, email discussion lists, books, videos, you name it. I would then study the shit out of the people who were attracted to it. I would gather demographic data, and I would analyze their thought processes and emotional responses. I would then use this information to engineer better-designed news stories, press releases, publicity stunts, and the like. Ones which would be more hack-proof. Simultaneously to studying them, I would also flood the people I was studying with vast amounts of erroneous data to sift through in order to distract them from the more important and more straightforward cultural trends and events that are going on.
– 13 November 2004
What can I say…