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Sweden to Monitor Russia’s Internet Activity

hacker070908.jpgThere are quite a few reasons for people to be worried about the Russian government’s international internet activity. The most prominent example was of course the famously crippling “cyberwar” waged upon Estonia in the wake of the Bronze Soldier scandal, which made the term “denial of service attack” an expression of common parlance in Eastern Europe. We’ve seen hackers from Russia successfully shut down the websites of Radio Free Europe in an unusual case of innovative censorship. There has also been a strong uptick in cross-border internet espionage, usually with the Chinese stealing the headlines – but MI5’s recent threat assessments would also mean that Russia is probably also an area of concern. We have even seen an alleged attempt by an organized group of Russian internet users to remove a video we posted on YouTube detailing human rights abuses at a Yekatrinburg prison (it was only reinstated after a prolonged fight and media coverage – and has currently gathered more than 97,000 views). And if we were to measure this by the way the Kremlin treats its own citizens online, than we wouldn’t be encouraged by recent reorganizations to oversight agencies or the jailing of bloggers. Even with all this considered, I really don’t think I like the sound of Sweden’s new “snoop” law, which will provide the authorities with the legal right to monitor and scan the details of 80% of Russia’s internet and telecom traffic through the country. This seems to rank right up there with the recent Viacom-YouTube scandal which might require them fork over users’ data – more and more tools of repression available to governments. I need not remark about the kind of potential violation of privacy such a law poses – how could the authorities ever separate Kremlin-related activities to scan from normal use by citizens? It appears the Swedes did not take kindly to the sharp words from Moscow following their refusal to extradite to their courts…