- The GUARDIAN on Wednesday breaks with an Internet nightmare: The Russian secret
police may soon be able to monitor, in real time, every e-mail message
and Web page sent or received by Russians.
- According to a draft of a project code
named "SORM" -- which is currently being discussed by Russian
communications agencies -- all providers of Internet services in Russia
would be forced to install a snooping device in their main computers and
build a dedicated information superhighway connecting it with the security
agency FSB, formerly the KGB.
- James Meek at the GUARDIAN is first with
- In an interview with James Meek of the
GUARDIAN, an FSB official said that he could not confirm the existence
of SORM -- the acronym for "system for ensuring investigative activity"
-- but a spokesman for the Russian Association of Network Services, an
Internet providers group, confirms to the paper that the association had
held four meetings to discuss the project's implications.
- "Russia's looming battle over Internet
privacy is part of a wider international struggle between governments and
Net users," reports Meek from Moscow.
- Internet providers would be obliged to
build a high-speed data link to the security service's Internet control
room so that FSB operators could access a vast amount of information about
- "In theory, under Russian law, the
FSB would be restrained by the same legal requirements as those covering
phone taps or letter-opening, for which it must make a formal application
to the courts. But Russian Internet users doubt the agency would be able
to resist the temptation to use its secret system to spy on the innocent."
- "The installation in an Internet
server of a 'black box' over which the server's administrators have absolutely
no control creates all sorts of dangers," said Anatoly Levanchuk,
an electronic documents consultant who published the SORM draft on a renegade
website in Russia, tells the GUARDIAN.
- "It would be like having the FSB's
word of honor that they won't switch on the listening device they've just
installed in your apartment or office unless they really need to."