Russia has long been known for its extensive and sophisticated surveillance state. The country’s intelligence agencies have been monitoring its citizens for decades, but in recent years, the surveillance state has grown even more powerful.
First off, let’s get this straight. The internet is almost completely controlled and monitored by the government. Since 1995 they have implemented the SORM system that allows the federal security service backdoor access to all telecommunication operators.
Essentially, this grants the government access to emails, phone calls, and internet browsing history. More recently it even tracks people’s locations and audio recordings. In other words, they have unchecked power when it comes to communication surveillance.
Not to mention, since August of 2014, public WIFI operators have had to identify all users by their passports and store this for at least 6 months.
If that wasn’t scary enough, around this time the blogger’s law was also passed which requires all websites with more than 3000 daily active users to register and therefore expose their identities.
Another key component of Russia’s surveillance state is its extensive network of CCTV cameras. Imagine walking down the street in Moscow and feeling like Big Brother is watching your every move.
Well, that’s because he probably is! The city is packed with over 185,000 facial recognition cameras monitoring the streets, subway, and shops.
These cameras are monitored by Russia’s intelligence agencies and according to the Mayor of Moscow, their facial recognition software is involved in over 70% of criminal investigations.
The Orwell contract
But it doesn’t stop there. More recently Russia signed the “Orwell” contract. I know that is certainly a fitting name. And to live up to it, it is essentially comprised of installing 43,000 cameras across Russian schools, identifying students’ movements and any potential outsiders.
There are also reports that they are developing a new state-of-the-art surveillance system that can identify people by their tattoos, voice, and even their irises.
Certainly, an Orwellian future to say the least.
Russia’s problem with censorship
Despite the growing evidence of the state’s invasive tactics, few have spoken out against the regime. In conjunction with the SORM system and other surveillance technologies, any dissidents are targeted.
This was evident by various protests supporting the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny in 2021. Dozens of journalists were identified by the vast CCTV networks in Russia and subsequently visited by the police.
One journalist named Oleg Ovcharenko stated that “I consider it to be a form of psychological pressure”. This mounting pressure also extends to the activists protesting the Ukraine war.
In one instance, Laysan Sultangareyeva a 24-year-old activist was detained after posting an Instagram photo supporting Ukraine. Once detained she was forced to take a drug test while also being asked if she supported Navalny.
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Ultimately, the regime’s tight grip on the media also ensures that news of its activities is suppressed, leaving the general public in the dark about the extent of the government’s surveillance capabilities.
At the end of the day, the situation in Russia is growing increasingly dire, and it seems that the government’s hunger for power and control knows no bounds. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it.
Want to learn about the world’s worst computer virus? Click here to read my previous article.