Attention Olympic Athletes: Russia Will Be Able To Wiretap You For No Reason

  • Eric Goldschein

vladimir putinBecause the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi weren’t mired in enough controversy — from not having enough snow to the whole “we might arrest gay athletes” thing — the Agence France Presse reports that Russia will have an “all-encompassing” monitoring system that will listen in on athletes and visitors. Not that this is surprising, per se, but the extent to which Russia will go may shock you (or not, depending on how familiar you are with Russia).

Every Olympic host city uses monitoring for security purposes. But they don’t use systems that were first developed by the KGB:

Dubbed SORM, the system will give Russian security services free access to all phone and Internet communications at the Olympic Games in February without the providers’ knowledge, according to research by Soldatov and his colleague Irina Borogan.

Telecom providers are required to pay for the SORM equipment and its installation, but law enforcement agencies will be able to wiretap without having to show providers court orders allowing the eavesdropping, the analysts said.

That sounds totally necessary. What else is on tap for foreign athletes?

“There is a promise that visitors will have access to the fastest WiFi networks in Olympic history, for free,” the researchers said on their website

But at the same time, the analysts said, national telecom provider Rostelecom is installing DPI (deep packet inspection) systems on all its mobile networks, technology which will allow [KGB successor] FSB not only to monitor all traffic but also to filter it.

This ability to survey all communication will be used in conjunction with, as already reported, unmanned aerial vehicles, recon robots and spot checks of luggage at airports and train stations.

Russia does have legitimate issues with terrorism and ethnic conflict, and after the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon, everyone will be on edge in regards to safety. But if there’s one country that probably shouldn’t be given free reign to spy on whoever it wants in whatever capacity it wants at any point, it’s Russia (nations run by total nutjobs not included).

So, don’t say anything the least bit gay on the phone, visiting athletes. You never know who’s listening (hint: it’s the Russian government).

Photo via Getty