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The Chamber of Commerces anti-union lawyers solicited “abhorrent” privacy invasions

By Climate Guest Contributor on February 15, 2011 at 10:31 am

"The Chamber of Commerces anti-union lawyers solicited “abhorrent” privacy invasions"

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Last week, ThinkProgress revealed that top lawyers for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce solicited private security contractors to investigate the Chamber’s political opponents [including their families and children].  The law firm, Hunton & Williams LLP, represents the Chamber against campaigns by unions and political activists. In 2009, the Chamber paid Hunton & Williams $1,147,644 for its services. The law firm has represented subprime mortgagers, global warming polluters, and tobacco giant Phillip Morris.

Brad Johnson has the story of how three Hunton & Williams partners engaged the services of Palantir, Berico Technologies, and HBGary Federal to perform the invasions of privacy the Chamber itself now describes as “abhorrent“:

- Richard L. Wyatt Jr., co-head of the firm’s Litigation Group, who is suing the Yes Men on behalf of the Chamber. Wyatt negotiated with the spy firms on pricing and told them he would sell the project to the Chamber.

- Robert T. Quackenboss, a lawyer who handles “the tactical and public communications response to union-coordinated attack campaigns.” In this effort, Quackenboss was the “key client contact operationally” with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

- John W. Woods, an expert on “electronic surveillance” and “corporate crimes.” Woods was the “primary point of contact” with the corporate spy contractors.

A key service that attracted the Chamber’s lawyers to the corporate spies was the ability of HBGary’s CEO Aaron Barr to use computer programs and false “personas” to “scrape” personal information from the websites of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. Such acts are in explicit contravention of the legal terms of service of Facebook and LinkedIn.

Emails leaked from HBGary’s servers describe how Hunton & Williams solicited Berico, Palantir, and HBGary “” who named their collaboration “Themis,” after the Roman goddess of law and order “” to use social media scrapers developed by HBGary to investigate political opponents of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Although Hunton & Williams avoided paying for the months of work, their officials solicited the proposal; repeatedly met with all participants; were fully aware that HBGary was scraping sensitive personal information about political adversaries of the Chamber; and praised the results of joint presentations by Berico, Palantir, and HBGary showing off the scrapers.

In January of this year, H&W sent by courier a CD with target data to the contractors. H&W also solicited the Themis team to produce a presentation on WikiLeaks for Bank of America that promoted their Facebook scraper.

Misuses of social media can result in damage to the employer’s reputation, breach of confidentiality, and trade secret theft,” Hunton & Williams ironically noted last year on one of its blogs. As of yet, it has refused to comment on its own misuse of social media on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

– Brad Johnson, in a Think Progress cross-post.

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10 Responses to The Chamber of Commerces anti-union lawyers solicited “abhorrent” privacy invasions

  1. John McCormick says:

    Here is one email that should be used frequently to voice your opinion of the immoral, likely illegal use of Arron Barr’s time:

    aaron@hbgary.com

    Another email

    John W. Woods

    jwoods@hunton.com

    Mr. Woods’ practice focuses on conducting internal investigations, advising on information security legal issues and representing corporations in government investigations and business crimes. He has a particular focus in advising corporations in the legal response to network security intrusions and data breaches. He regularly counsels clients on the related topics of electronic discovery and electronic surveillance.

    Write him a note and remind him he has or will lose his moral compass and maybe his livelihood.

    John McCormick

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    Why did Mr Koch ordered and fund an orchestrated Internet Campaign to Attack the Science with Ad Hominem?

    How long does it take to put them on trial for Treason and Conspiracy?

  3. Wyoming says:

    Maybe what would be most effective here is for Mark Zuckerburg to sue the lot of them for not just violating the terms of their legal agreement with him, but for damaging his business. With the depth of his pockets he would scare the living crap out of them. Assuming, of course, that he is interested in saving the world and not just living the billionaires life.

    I find it hard to believe that all billionaires would be in favor of funding the deniers. There must be a least a couple who have the moral and ethical stature not to discount the future for profits in the here and now.

    I am probably being naive I suppose. Wyo

  4. Beth Deuble says:

    I have posted to my blog, Path to Well-Being under my series called Fox Hunting. Good Work Guys! http://asheham.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/fox-hunting-u-s-chamber-of-commerce-invading-privacy-of-opposition/

  5. Villabolo says:

    @4. Thank you John for posting those emails. I’ll be sending them a message.

  6. Villabolo says:

    Oops! Meant to say in my last post @1.

  7. Alda says:

    In response to Wyoming statement about FACEBOOK. Food for thought – below are links to two very interesting tid-bits of info about Facebook.

    Maybe the QUESTION should BE – WHO IS MARK ZUCKERBERG?

    Frm: Bay Area/Bizjournal

    Read more: Emails undercut Palantir, Chamber of Commerce dirty tricks denials | San Francisco Business Times

    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2011/02/emails-undercut-denials-from-palantir.html

    QUOTE:

    “Ironically, perhaps, Thiel, who co-founded Palantir along with other PayPal veterans and Stanford computer scientists, was an early Facebook investor and sits on the giant social network’s board of directors.

    “Palantir was founded in 2004 and claims to serve two major sectors, government – including the intelligence, defense, and law enforcement communities – and big financial insitutions, including hedge funds.” .

    Read more: Emails undercut Palantir, Chamber of Commerce dirty tricks denials | San Francisco Business Times

    HERE IS ANOTHER PALANTIR/FACEBOOK CONNECTION – FROM 2008

    “Project Palantir: Facebook Interactions Visualization”

    http://infosthetics.com/archives/2008/11/project_palantir_facebook_interaction_visualization.html

  8. Villabolo says:

    @2. Prokaryotes says:

    Why did Mr Koch ordered and fund an orchestrated Internet Campaign to Attack the Science with Ad Hominem?

    How long does it take to put them on trial for Treason and Conspiracy?

    Why ask why? We all know the answer. His worldview centers around his wealth. No other reality exists outside of his mentality.

    As far as how long it takes to put them on trial for Crimes Against Humanity as well as Treason, my belief is that we will have to wait until the United States starts to feel the effects of severe climactic disruption at the level where tens of millions of Americans die as a result.

    By then, hundreds of millions of people, perhaps over a billion, would have died worldwide.

    Also by then, people like the Koch brothers and a host of others, including politicians, would have fled the United States and sought refuge anonymously elsewhere in the world.

    They will have to be hunted down and captured. If that is impractical, then some Hellfire missiles could pay them a visit at their isolated strongholds.

  9. Villabolo says:

    @1, John Mc Cormick:

    Write him a note and remind him he has or will lose his moral compass and maybe his livelihood.

    I sent John Woods the following email.

    Concerning your involvement with the Chamber of Commerce and its espionage on citizens.

    There is no need to moralize with psychopaths. In the not so distant future, there will be trials for crimes against humanity. Hope to see you there.

    Signed, Your moral superior.

    A little emotive perhaps, but I’m not Mr. Spock.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Robert T. Quackenboss!!!??? Can Groucho Marx still be amongst us? Did he do an Elvis (they checked out the same week) and faked his demise? God, we need him now. This is what used to be called ‘friendly fascism’, brought to you not by the legally elected Government, but by the real rulers of capitalist societies, the corporate elect. And it grows less and less ‘friendly’ by the hour.