Black Cube has been involved in some of the most high-profile cases worldwide for public relations firms, Fortune 100 companies, governments, royal families, entrepreneurs, and even celebrities. For example, the recent Harvey Weinstein scandal involved an investigation by Black Cube. Weinstein’s lawyer hired the firm to investigate Weinstein’s accusers to disprove their sexual assault claims against him. Investigators were tasked with entering the lists of email accounts of women who have come out against Weinstein or other actors that he had worked with over past decades.
What does this mean in practice?
In practice, it means that Israeli police can get a court order for almost any database held by an Israeli company. Usually, that means getting a court order for all the data in the database, but occasionally it just means getting a court order for a specific record.A 2005 ruling from Israel’s Supreme Court said the police could be ordered to produce all data relating to a specific individual, including data the police did not even know existed. Police could also get an order for all the data relating to a specific Web site.
The police need the court order to get any database. But most databases are kept by companies, not by governments. And companies are not likely to voluntarily hand over databases to the police. So the police can only get a court order for data held by companies.The privacy law says that if the police need a court order to access a database, the company holding it must be notified in advance and given a chance to appeal. In practice, the police do not notify companies in advance, and they rarely give companies a chance to appeal.
The law also says that if the police want to produce data, they have to get a court order from a judge. In practice, the police do not bother to get court orders. They ask the database company to hand over data, and the database company usually complies.
The privacy law says the police can examine databases only for specific purposes specified in the law. In practice, the police examine databases for almost any purpose they can find. An Israeli court ruled that the police could examine a database of all Israeli bank account holders. A court in New York ruled that police could
How do investigative firms help?
The model of investigative firms is summarized by the word “investigative.” They specialize in gathering information. But information is worthless until it is analyzed and integrated into something meaningful.This means that investigative firms’ value is entirely based on their ability to find information. To take advantage of that, they must control the information they find.This isn’t just unfair. It’s dangerous. The more information they control, the more control they have over our lives.
Investigative firms are the beneficiaries of a technological advantage society gives them. The advantage is that nearly all of the information they use is invisible. We can’t see or touch it, and we can’t use it. For more information you can visit www.ft.com/content/489dcdb5-2ffe-4868-a71a-30db67f93346