Russia to ensure all voices heard in Winter Olympics: Report

Russia to ensure all voices heard in Winter Olympics: Report
Mon Oct 7, 2013 08:33:28

Russia's FSB security service plans to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, the British daily Guardian says in a report.

The report cites a dossier compiled by a team of Russian investigative journalists looking into preparations for the 2014 Games which indicates that newly installed telephone and internet spying capabilities will give the FSB free rein to intercept any telephony or data traffic and even track the use of sensitive words or phrases mentioned in emails, webchats and on social media.

The journalists, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, claim major amendments have been made to telephone and Wi-Fi networks in the Black Sea resort to ensure extensive and all-permeating monitoring and filtering of all traffic, using Sorm, Russia's system for intercepting phone and internet communications.

The Sorm system is being modernized across Russia, but particular attention has been paid to Sochi given the large number of foreign visitors expected next year. Technical specifications set out by the Russian state telecoms agency also show that a controversial technology known as deep packet inspection, which allows intelligence agencies to filter users by particular keywords, is being installed across Russia's networks, and is required to be compatible with the Sorm system.

"For example you can use the keyword Navalny, and work out which people in a particular region are using the word Navalny," says Soldatov, referring to Alexei Navalny, Russia's best-known opposition politician. "Then, those people can be tracked further."

Soldatov and Borogan claim they have found that the FSB has been working since 2010 to upgrade the Sorm system to ensure it can cope with the extra traffic during the Games.

All telephone and ISP providers have to install Sorm boxes in their technology by law, and once installed, the FSB can access data without the provider ever knowing, meaning every phone call or internet communication can be logged.

Although the FSB technically requires a warrant to intercept a communication, it is not obliged to show it to anyone.

However at a an FSB press conference this week, a Russian official, Alexei Lavrishchev, denied security and surveillance at the Games would be excessive, and said that the London Olympics featured far more intrusive measures. "There, they even put CCTV cameras in, excuse me for saying it, the toilets," said Lavrishchev. "We are not taking this kind of measure."


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