England

The UK’s Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group

In 2015 the UK formed a group that came to be called the Twitter Troops in the 77th Brigade.  They did not post misinformation but they received a considerable amount of attention.  You do not here a lot about the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG).  The Guardian reports,

Indeed the very existence of the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group was a national secret until documents from Edward Snowden were published by Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman in 2014. And they reveal a very busy group of people, whose work within GCHQ was intended to help everyone from the police and MI5 to the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Bank of England.

Some of JTRIG’s tactics, such as hacking into websites and setting up sexual “honeypot” stings, sound more or less like conventional spying. Others were carefully designed to manipulate and deceive. In the words of the leaked document, these included “Uploading YouTube videos containing persuasive messages; establishing online aliases with Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs and forum memberships … sending spoof emails and text messages as well as providing spoof online resources; and setting up spoof trade sites.”

jtrig-slideSome of this sounds reasonable, and frankly welcome, such as disrupting the online activities of terrorists or child abusers. Indeed, if it still exists, JTRIG seems to target specific groups or individuals, rather than trying to influence public opinion. Which groups, however, and who chooses them, might be a legitimate concern. The document mentions the English Defence League, for example, whose members were no doubt not happy to be included. For its part, GCHQ will only say that all its work is legal.

Estimated troops A few dozen.

Favourite subjects Sex, drugs, not traveling to Syria please.

Categories: England

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