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.”
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