Honesty Policy: Russia Making No Bones About Spying On Everyone During The Olympics
from the i-seeeeeeee-you dept
I’ll give the Russian government this: they don’t really pretend to be something they aren’t. Unlike the US government’s NSA spying program, which was only revealed through the leaks of now Russian house guest Edward Snowden, the Russian government wants you to know that they don’t give a fly’s poop about your civil liberties or anyone’s concept of freedom of the press.
So says Russia, which has publically and completely above-board-ly announced that journalists covering the Olympic Games in Sochi will have their electronic communications monitored thoroughly by the Russian government.
A series of articles last fall revealed the amazing extent of the centralized surveillance, which exceeds the capabilities of the Chinese monitoring system at the Beijing games, and is given much wider latitude to eavesdrop than even our own NSA programs. The very communications infrastructure in Sochi was built to give government security systems full access, and not a single text message, email, or phone call will go un-monitored.
Russia’s response has been a big shrug. Voice of Russia, an official government organ, published an article telling visitors not to be afraid—it’s for your own security. Then, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree authorizing the government to collect all phone and internet data at the Olympics. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that reporters are twice specifically highlighted as targets in the decree.
The whole “it’s for your own good” line is a sham, of course. What the Russian government is actually worried about is any reporting on their own security flaws in the upcoming Games, along with the prospect of foreign journalists getting in contact with any activists, protesters, or opposition figures. But, hey, we’re nitpicking here. The real story is that the Russian government gets the same spy-boners as the United States and the Chinese, but at least they tell you all about it. Like a peeping tom that sends you an Outlook calendar invite for when they’ll be activating the toilet cams, or something.
This publicity is probably itself part of the program of staving off any real work journalists might want to do. But that’s the beauty of it: they get to appear to be transparent while still retaining that good old fashion Orwellian feeling. So…progress?