The Cyber-Cave

Reflections on the political, technological, cultural and economic trends of the world

Russian Secret Services

Russia’s internal surveillance system is based on SORM-1, SORM-2, SORM-3. These programs became legal when they passed into law in 1995, thereby allowing Russian intelligence agencies to conduct comprehensive surveillance operations.
SORM-1 is about capturing phone communication, SORM-2 is about internet traffic, SORM-3 about others forms of communication.

A new law passed in 2012 demands that companies have to store online data about Russian citizens for six months (thereby allowing intelligence agencies to access the data if requested), carriers have to keep metadata for six months as well, while companies using encrypted data must provide the key to the authorities when required. The new legislation was part of a counter-terrorism program authored in part by United Russia’s MP Irina Yarovaya. The new law will also allow authorities to charge citizens in case they fail to report a crime before that crime is actually carried out (this law might allow authorities to enjoy the benefit of ‘creative ambiguity’ as I like to call it…).
The fact that companies with online data provide information to intelligence agencies (whether American or Russian) is nothing new under the sun. A notable Russian case is when Yandex revealed that in 2011 it gave data to the FSB so that the FSB could check who used the service to finance Navalny. [1].
A new law passed in 2014 requires foreign social media companies to maintain their servers in Russia (and store information for 6 months).
Russia’s nationalistic stance in the internet is not surprising. In 2014 Putin claimed that the internet is a ‘CIA project’. [2]

In 2016 (part of Usmanov’s business empire) acquired a 100% stake in VK with a deal funded by a Gazprombank loan. Usmanov is close to Putin.  Durov, the original creator of VK, no longer has any stake in VK after aurhorities allegedly left him no option but to leave Russia (story goes that Durov, a libertarian, refused to accept requests from Russian authorities like handling data when he was the CEO of VK).


Due to the military experience accumulated in the Syrian War, Russian military high schools will begin holding lessons on ‘urban warfare’.


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