Russia’s “Carnivore” under fire


Russia’s Supreme Court has taken aim at that government’s infamous surveillance program SORM (similar to the FBI’s controversial “Carnivore” technology), issuing a decision that could weaken the program’s frighteningly broad control over private correspondence, the MOSCOW TIMES reports.

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SORM — or System for Operational-Investigative Activities — requires communications companies to install equipment that allows Russia’s FSB (the KGB’s successor agency) to spy on its citizens’ transmissions, including those conducted over the Internet. (See Feb. 4 MoJo Wire story.) Though technically the FSB would need a warrant to survey any e-mails, critics charged that the organization would essentially be able to snoop on anyone.

In the recent court case, filed by a St. Petersburg journalist, the court ruled that law enforcement agencies must inform Internet providers and telephone and paging companies if they are listening in on their clients. Many critics remain skeptical, saying that the ruling does not necessarily mean communications companies will, in turn, tell their customers they are being spied upon. However, the case could potentially lead to more far-reaching prohibitions on government surveillance.