Russia To Monitor 'All Communications' To Safeguard 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
Athletes and spectators attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics "will face some of the most invasive and systematic spying and surveillance in the history of the Games," according to Shaun Walker of the London GUARDIAN. Russia's FSB security service "plans to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the event," according to a dossier compiled by a team of Russian investigative journalists looking into preparations for the 2014 Games." Government procurement documents and tenders from Russian communication companies indicate 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 found that "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." Ron Deibert, a University of Toronto professor and director at Citizen Lab, which co-operated with the Sochi research, described the Sorm amendments as "Prism on steroids," referring to the program used by the NSA in the U.S. and by whistleblower Edward Snowden. A leaflet from the U.S. state department's bureau of diplomatic security warned, "Business travellers should be particularly aware that trade secrets, negotiating positions, and other sensitive information may be taken and shared with competitors, counterparts, and/or Russian regulatory and legal entities" (GUARDIAN, 10/6).
COLLECTING THE DATA: Also in London, Soldatov, Borogan & Walker reported Russia's leadership is "notoriously paranoid about perceived foreign meddling, and the conventional package of security measures that comes as standard with any major modern event in any country was augmented by a heightened interest in clandestine surveillance." So "as the oligarch-funded construction firms started building the venues and infrastructure for the Olympics, the FSB began making plans for a more shadowy kind of network," to address the vulnerabilities of the event. At a conference in Sept. '10, a presentation ordered by the FSB "was given on security in Sochi." The presentation "was mostly about cyber threats," but it also said that Sorm "should be significantly updated in Sochi." It also specified this "should be done in secret." The Sorm-1 system "captures telephone and mobile phone communications, Sorm-2 intercepts internet traffic, and Sorm-3 collects information from all forms of communication." The system will provide "long-term storage of all information and data on subscribers, including actual recordings and locations." Mobile networks in Sochi "have also been significantly updated." In June, Russia national telecom operator Rostelecom "launched a 4G LTE network around Sochi, pledging the fastest Wi-Fi networks in Olympic history, free of charge." But simultaneously, Rostelecom is "installing DPI ('deep packet inspection') systems on all its mobile networks, a technology which allows the FSB not only to monitor all traffic, but to filter it" (GUARDIAN, 10/6).
HOW THEY GOT THE DOCUMENTS: The GUARDIAN also reported how Soldatov & Borogan "unearthed the FSB spy plan" for the Sochi Olympics. Through research, the Guardian "examined dozens of open sources including technical documents published on the government's procurement agency website, zakupki.gov.ru." Russian law "requires all government agencies, including the secret services, to buy the equipment through this site." The Guardian "studied presentations and public statements made by government officials and top managers of firms involved with the Sochi Olympics and Sochi city." The newspaper also "gathered public records of government oversight agencies such as the telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor" (GUARDIAN, 10/6).