News Release

Beyond the NSA: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofits

GARY RUSKIN, ruskin at corporatepolicy.org, @garyruskin
Director of the Center for Corporate Policy, Ruskin wrote the just-released report “Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations” [PDF] for the group Essential Information.

He said today: “Giant corporations are employing highly unethical or illegal tools of espionage against nonprofit organizations with near impunity. Our report documents how corporations hire shady investigative firms staffed with former employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, U.S. military, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Secret Service and local police departments to target nonprofit organizations.

“Many of the world’s largest corporations and their trade associations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, Monsanto, Bank of America, Dow Chemical, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Chevron, Burger King, McDonald’s, Shell, BP, BAE, Sasol, Brown & Williamson and E.ON — have been linked to espionage or planned espionage against nonprofit organizations, activists and whistleblowers.

“Many different types of nonprofit organizations have been targeted with corporate espionage, including environmental, anti-war, public interest, consumer, food safety, pesticide reform, nursing home reform, gun control, social justice, animal rights and arms control groups.

“Corporations and their trade associations have been linked to a wide variety of espionage tactics against nonprofit organizations. The most prevalent tactic appears to be infiltration by posing as a volunteer or journalist, to obtain information from a nonprofit. But corporations have been linked to many other human, physical and electronic espionage tactics against nonprofits. Many of these tactics are either highly unethical or illegal.”