Russia Will Use 'Prism on Steroids' to Monitor Olympics

Will track all Internet and phone communication at Sochi

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 6, 2013 4:17 PM CDT

(Newser) – Vladimir Putin promised the 2014 Olympics will celebrate the values of "openness and friendship" as he struggled to light the Olympic flame today, but documents obtained by the Guardian suggest that's all just hot air. Russian investigative journalists have found that the country's FSB security service has set up infrastructure to monitor all phone and Internet communication in the host city of Sochi, using Russia's surveillance system, Sorm. Sorm has been undergoing across-the-board updates since 2010, but there has been a particular focus on making it robust enough to cope with the extra Olympic traffic, the Guardian reports.

A professor at the University of Toronto who has researched the Sorm updates describes it as "Prism on steroids." By law, all phone and ISP providers must now install Sorm boxes, which the FSB can monitor without their knowledge. Russia's telco has also installed "deep packet inspection" technology on its mobile networks, allowing the FSB to filter traffic via keywords. It's probably no coincidence that the chief of security for the Games is one of the FSB's top counterintelligence chiefs, notes the Guardian, indicating the country is more interested in stopping spies than terrorists. The FSB will also monitor the event with 40,000 cops, 5,000 surveillance cameras, drones, and two sonar systems, the Guardian reports in a separate story.

A cauldron with Olympic flame, on stage center, at Moscow's Red Square.
A cauldron with Olympic flame, on stage center, at Moscow's Red Square.   (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
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