Cracking Down on Dissent, Russia Seeds a Surveillance Supply Chain
Russia is incubating a cottage industry of new digital surveillance tools to suppress domestic opposition to the war in Ukraine. The tech may also be sold overseas.
By Aaron Krolik, Paul Mozur and Adam Satariano, The New York Times, July 3, 2023
As the war in Ukraine unfolded last year, Russia’s best digital spies turned to new tools to fight an enemy on another front: those inside its own borders who opposed the war…
The technologies have given the police and Russia’s Federal Security Service, better known as the F.S.B., access to a buffet of snooping capabilities focused on the day-to-day use of phones and websites. The tools offer ways to track certain kinds of activity on encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal, monitor the locations of phones, identify anonymous social media users and break into people’s accounts…
One program outlined in the materials can identify when people make voice calls or send files on encrypted chat apps such as Telegram, Signal and WhatsApp. The software cannot intercept specific messages, but can determine whether someone is using multiple phones, map their relationship network by tracking communications with others, and triangulate what phones have been in certain locations on a given day. Another product can collect passwords entered on unencrypted websites… [end quote]
This is a long article that details how the new tools can be used to track physical and social networks.
It probably won’t be long that the U.S. becomes the target of spying like this…if it isn’t already.
This idea of mine is a hoot. The CIA or the appropriate US agency should infiltrate their systems and make 30% or whatever percentage of Russians as very vocal dissidents. In other words jam the Russian police by making overwhelming numbers of people outlaws in Russia. Think Putin would sleep well after that? Think they could sell their blank after that?
In the US none of that would be admissible in a court of law. Unless there was evidence of a crime such as drug dealing or violent offenses. Any leader in the US supporting this would lose a lot of support him or herself.
The more important thing we have layers of independent bureaucrats. You cant get it past them without a lot of layers of resistance and court cases.
The idea of bureaucracy in China or Russia is not the same. In the US only the prison system is aimed at slave labor in some sense of the word. That is disgusting enough that our society’s identity is aimed in the other direction.
We have long been able to do this triangulating towers and following IP addresses. We do not ever look for dissidents this way. Not for just stating contrary opinions. It is not 1984 in America.
I hope a US agency makes rubbish of the Russian system. I’d like to be a fly on the wall if a Russian security agent had to tell Putin that 30% of Russians can not be locked up. Such an atmosphere in Russia would emboldened the entire population to rise up.
As an aside about a European culture a kind of we wont do it. Ireland did not have water bills for years on end. You just had water from your tap. Then in Dublin about 20 years ago the powers that be started having the water company send out bills. No one paid the bills. The public all agreed not to pay. Which is up there with when the British left Ireland. The Irish had been paying rents to English landlords. The Irish stopped paying the rent and took over their home ownerships for free. The Russian spy agencies can face an uprising if the US eggs it on.