Examination of leaked documents from two corporate security firms C2i International and Inkerman Group by The Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that companies are hiring spies to monitor and infiltrate political groups which protest against their activities.
The two firms represent companies like British Airways, Royal Bank of Scotland, Caterpillar, RWE Power and Porsche.
According to a report in The Guardian, companies hire covert operators “to provide us with intelligence on potential threats or issues in the form of weekly reports and ad hoc updates.”
The thousands of pages of the leaked document include, among other things, a confidential memo delivered by C2i to its client detailing what happened at the Hands Off Iraqi Oil demonstration in London in 2008.
The security firm had sent a spy dressed in pirate costume to march with the protestors. The spy, Toby Kendall, joined the march when it was sneaking through the streets of London.
Two days after the protest, the memo was delivered alerting its clients, which read: “Members of Hands Off Iraqi Oil, War on Want, London Rising Tide and Art Not Oil along with friends and sympathisers dressed up in pirate paraphernalia [went] to visit sites of companies that they consider to be exploiting the war in Iraq and especially their fossil fuel reserves.
“An amalgamation of members of the samba bands Rhythms of Resistance and Barking Samba played during the procession … Passersby were amused by the costumes and theatre and engaged as the group passed them.”
The leaks suggest that these kinds of espionage operations are not one-off cases. They are run pretty frequently by the corporate security firms.Even the UK police seem to be aware of them and call the deployment of corporate spies “completely uncontrolled and unrestrained”. The senior officers claimed that even though the Police sends undercover officers to these protests, they find more corporate spies tottering around.