Subject: [cwj 107] Read the Leaked Sony Document Tracking Environmental Groups
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 12:13:21 -0700
Seq: 107

The leaked Sony document in question may be downloaded from:


Targeting funding, internet activities

Several industry sectors have begun efforts to counteract recent  gains by
environmentalists on international and trade issues,  ranging from
preemptive attempts to block charitable foundations  from funding
environmentalists to the use of internet "intelligence" collection agencies
to track and potentially cripple activists efforts 
on a global scale, according to industry officials and confidential  industry
strategy documents.  

Environmentalists say the new initiatives constitute an  unprecedented
offensive on their ability to engage in the debate  over the effect of
international trade, as well as economic and  political globalization, on
the environment.  

Industry officials by and large defend their efforts, saying that the
measures are legal and necessary in order to keep track of the  numerous
campaigns environmentalists have launched in the international 

According to documents obtained by Inside EPA, Sony Co. this  summer
prepared an "action plan" for counteracting the efforts of  several
domestic and international environmental groups--including  Friends of the
Earth, Greenpeace and Silicon Valley Toxics  Coalition.  The plan includes
such activities as "pre-funding  intervention" and creates a "detailed
monitoring and contact  network" to track the activities of these groups. A
copy of the  strategy is available on our online document service, IWP Extra. 
See page 2 for details.  

Sony presented the document during a July technology sector 
meeting in Brussels on the so-called "WEE" directive--a European 
Union proposal that would phase out a raft of toxic substances in 
electronics and would require manufacturers to take back their 
products for recycling once their useful consumer life is over.  The 
WEE initiative has been heavily lobbied by several U.S. environmental 
groups, but bitterly opposed by most multinational electronics firms.  

The Sony paper and sources close to the issue say the monitoring 
network would employ one of the dozens of new internet 
"intelligence" agencies --such as London-based Infonics PLC--that 
monitor chat rooms, e-mail lists, electronic bulletin boards, online 
news services, newsgroups and other sources of public information for 
specific data requested by a company or industry group.  This information 
includes press releases and news stories, discussions of particular issues 
and campaigns, and overall strategy, and is typically compiled in digest 
form for subscribers to the service.  

Although sources with Infonics were not available for comment, the 
company has been involved in international environmental issues in 
the past, most notably when it hired Royal Dutch Shell, Inc. to 
polish its corporate image after the Nigerian military executed a 
local environmentalist who was fighting to require Shell to address 

An industry official says "pre-funding intervention" means providing
groups with industry data prior to the beginning of their campaigns 
to ensure "they have good information" about company products and 
practices. But an observer familiar with industry efforts says it likely
refers to a
growing movement in the business community to take industry 
problems with activists' agendas directly to donors, charitable foundations
companies that sponsor the environmental organizations, in  an 
effort to stall the campaigns before they even commence.  

Sources say the Sony paper only highlights what some contend is 
a growing movement in the industry to try and cripple 
environmentalists and other activists organizations because of their
demands on trade issues. Sources also point to a new website-- was reportedly set up by the 
agribusiness sector in response to last year's protests at the World Trade
(WTO) meeting in Seattle.  The organizers of the site have collected a list 
of environmental groups that took part in the protests, their sponsors, 
and a list of "myths" about trade and environment and their rebuttals--
including charges that that global warming is not a real phenomenon and 
that the government should not protect certain species from extinction due 
to human activities.  

Environmentalists say the site is a clear attempt to intimidate 
charitable foundations into not providing the groups with funds.  
And while the groups' site stops short of actually calling for the 
foundations to halt funding for these groups, it does say "we intend to
shine a very bright light on these groups, and hold them accountable for
their actions."  

Activists say the efforts could set a dangerous precedent, and warn 
of an industry "Big Brother" mentality that seems to be becoming 
more prevalent in the business community.  One observer says the 
Sony strategy also appears to be the first example of a 
coordinated, international effort by business to monitor and 
counteract activists' efforts.  

Several sources say that prior to the Seattle demonstrations, much 
of the industry did not view environmentalist working on trade 
issues as a threat.  But after protesters--led in large part by 
environmental and labor groups--successfully shut down the WTO 
meetings and their subsequent wins in the realm of public opinion, 
many in the business community have begun to take notice and 
are actively seeking a way to address the situation.

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has
not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner.  Corporate Watch
in Japanese is making this article available in our efforts to advance
understanding of ecological sustainability, human rights, economic
democracy and social justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a
'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of
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Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
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San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
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