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Shell IT espionage and dirty tricks

By John Donovan

The significance of a counter-measures team set up by Shell in March 2007 is now becoming clearer. We only became aware of it due to a Shell internal email dated 9 March 2007 released to us as a result of an application to Shell under the Data Protection Act.

Days later, on 21 March 2007, Shell initiated an IT project to “monitor internal e-mails from Shell servers globally to Donovan and is also monitoring web traffic to determine internal traffic to their website”. The relevant Shell internal email states: “There is history of several former employees taking internal laundry to Donovan also, internal e-mails have appeared on his website.”

Shell’s growing hostility towards us in March 2007 was partly generated by an email I sent to Bill O’Reilly at Fox News entitled “Shell’s treachery in Iran” and by Shell’s obsession over my input as an editor of Wikipedia articles about Royal Dutch Shell. My email to Bill O’Reilly created a panic at Shell, as is plain from the series of emails between Shell and Fox News which I will publish shortly. I will also publish the Wikipedia Shell emails. More s*** to hit the fan. I will also publish an email I am sending to Mr O’Reilly.

The following month, June 2007, Shell made threats to our server hosting companies in Canada and the USA which resulted in our website being shut down on 25 June 2007.  It was only a very brief victory, literally a matter of minutes. It is not a realistic proposition to prevent a website which is being operated by a determined adversary. Richard Wiseman will testify to just how determined we are. Although initially unwilling to disclose who had made the threats which led to the brief shut down, when we pressed both hosting companies, each reluctantly confirmed, as we anticipated, that it was Shell. Keith Ruddock, the General Counsel for Shell EP later confirmed in an email to us, that Shell was behind the coordinated threats made to both hosting companies.

So the actions taken in 2007 were concentrated on trying to close the site and when that did not work, trace Shell employees at Shell premises visiting or posting Shell insider information on our website and identity those leaking Shell internal emails to us.

In June 2009, Shell requested external contacts, the “NCFTA” and “CAS”, to carry out “invisible” (covert) investigations to trace the persons communicating with our website. With regards to the cloak and dagger issues associated with the relevant email dated 17 June 2009, the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance will not comment despite repeated requests on whether it is the external organisation identified in the email as “NCFTA”. I understand that Shell is connected with NCFTA along with other companies and investigative agencies, including the FBI. It would seem entirely wrong that a partly government sponsored organisation meant to combat cyber threats and cyber criminals is being utilized to crack down on free speech on the Internet. The latest covert investigations have clearly been prompted by postings on the Shell Blog in June 2009 directed at Shell Motiva VP Tom Purves and his alleged cronies, including a Mr Jeff Funkhouser.

If anyone knows the identity of “CAS” mentioned in the email, kindly let me know ASAP, as I intend to take action on these matters. For enhanced security, open a free email account and send any information to me via [email protected]. The email will then be automatically encrypted.

Shell once had its own blog – Tell Shell – initially advertised as being an uncensored forum for open and lively debate. Shell then decided the debate was rather too lively and started openly censoring the postings. Shell then moved to secret censorship. Finally the blog was “temporarily suspended”, never to appear again as an operating blog forum.

Shell is now trying to control a blog that it does not own and therefore cannot edit or censor. Hence the cowardly attempt to close the site and when that did not succeed, the return to cloak and dagger activity to try to stem the flow of devastatingly embarrassing postings.

RELATED ARTICLES Secret Censorship on Royal Dutch Shell “Tell Shell” Internet Forum: Sunday 14 August 2005: 13.00 ET: Read the article Royal Dutch Shell suspends its “Tell Shell” discussion forum indefinitely in response to censorship attack: Sunday 6 November 2005: 04.30am EDT: READ The slow death of the ROYAL DUTCH SHELL PLC “Tell Shell” Internet discussion forum: 25 October 2005: 09.00am ET: READ and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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