Going To Sochi? Big Brother WILL Be Watching You

A journalistic investigation reveals that Russia's FSB security service plans to monitor all online and telephonic communication for all athletes and spectators during the 2014 Winter Olympics. One expert says it will be like "Prism on steroids."

What's the Latest Development?

Participants and visitors at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian town of Sochi may want to watch what they say: An investigation by journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan using open source technical documents and public records reveals that the government's Federal Security Service (FSB) is building upon an extensive surveillance system, Sorm, that will essentially enable it to monitor all data and phone communications during the event. University of Toronto professor Ron Deibert likes the new system to "Prism on steroids" and notes that telephone companies and ISPs are required to build their infrastructure in a way that permits Sorm access.

What's the Big Idea?

Although Sorm is being modernized country-wide, special focus will be on Sochi because of the influx of foreign visitors. While such surveillance isn't new -- FSB official Alexei Lavrishchev pointed out that the 2012 Summer Olympics in London included cameras in the restrooms -- recent political developments regarding gay rights is one cause for concern. Although Russian president Vladimir Putin says athletes will be exempt from the country's new law banning "homosexual propaganda," the system will allow authorities to "identify, tag and follow all visitors to the Olympics, both Russian and foreign, who are discussing gay issues, and possibly planning to organise protests."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at The Guardian

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less