Eating the Greens: Sony Uses the Internet to Fight Eco-Warriors

Eating the Greens: Sony Uses the Internet to Fight

Since last year’s protests in Seattle, environmental and global
justice activists have been the targets of heavy surveillance. But
government agencies aren’t the only ones doing the spying. Big
business has joined the game too, writes Burhan Wazir in the
British newspaper The Observer.

Electronics giants such as Sony are using the Internet to hit back
at troublesome eco-warriors, Wazir reports. ‘Sony’s problem with
the greenies is this: its products contain toxins and are difficult
to dispose of. Environmentalists would like tougher controls. Sony
wants to avoid them.’

In a recently leaked internal memo titled ‘NGO Strategy,’ Sony
officials laid out their plans for countering eco-critics. ‘[The
document] bears all the Cold War histrionics of J. Edgar Hoover’s
G-Men,’ says Wazir. ‘[It] discloses the names, contacts and
Internet addresses of leading environmental groups that pose a
public relations threat to the company – the Northern Alliance for
Sustainability, Greenpeace, the European Environment Bureau, the
Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and Friends of the Earth.’

That may sound like the standard tactics any sensible PR flak would
employ, but here’s the kicker: Sony recommends that the electronics
industry hire ‘web investigation agencies’ to snoop on and
counteract critics.

Sony’s own hired guns, Infonic, Plc, represent a host of corporate
giants, including Shell Oil, British Airways, Levis Strauss &
Co and Unilever. One of the leaders in this emerging field,
Infonic’s web-site declares: ‘Suddenly a company’s voice is no
longer louder than that of its leading critics. Activists,
customers, journalists and employees are talking to each other like
never before, with big business finding it increasingly difficult
to stay in the conversation.’ — Leif
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