According to a report that aired on NBC News last night, virtually everyone entering the Sochi games will immediately be at risk of having their information compromised. And as the State Department has said, you should expect no privacy.
“Malicious software hijacked our phone before we even finished our coffee, stealing my information, and giving hackers the option to tap and record my phone calls.”
Similarly, ABC News reports that Russian intelligence will vacuum everything.
It should certainly be expected,” agreed a senior U.S. intelligence official, who told ABC News that the influx of tens of thousands of American spectators and dignitaries will be “an intelligence bonanza” for both Russian spies and organized crime groups. [...]
The Russian electronic surveillance program, called SORM, rivals any American domestic FBI or NSA surveillance program — with one key difference: the Russians don’t need the formality of a court order to suck up all of the targeted person’s data, which is archived for three years. [...]
“The Russians will own your communications when you go there. The only way to guard against that is to take a clean device and use a temporary email address,” Joel Brenner, who served as U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive from 2006-2009, told ABC News.
It’s an inescapable irony that the biggest critic of the NSA is currently living in Russia; a country where every detail of your life can be sucked up without a court order and used for any number of purposes.
The NSA requires the permission of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to conduct its business and metadata is in no way comparable to the mountain of data Russian authorities will be sucking up.
More on SORM from Agence France Presse (AFP)
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. [...]
Citing research based on documents published by the Russian government procurement agency and other government records, the analysts said the authorities have been installing the surveillance devices in the Black Sea resort of Sochi since 2010. [...]
While many Olympic host countries take steps to monitor communications for security reasons, Russia will take surveillance to a new level, said Soldatov, adding the government will also deploy drones and sonars to detect submarines.
Drones too? Oh my.
Snark aside, there is a cyber-intelligence arms race happening right now as we speak and while some critics of our American counterparts may have good intentions, they would see America unilaterally disarm itself while other nations pull out all the stops to get ahead.
We can do better than them. We can respect the rule of law here at home and match our adversaries overseas.