Civil Liberties

Russian Surveillance Tech Used in the West

Yes, even in America


We all know surveillance is big in Putin's Russia. What you may not know is that Russia's surveillance tech is being used all over — even here in the U.S.

The Kremlin is up to its domes in spy technology. One reason is fear, provoked by the Arab Spring, of a growing and diffuse protest movement that uses social media to organize. Notably, the authorities have taken an interest in DPI (or deep packet inspection) tools, which are essential to monitoring the internet Russia-wide. The largest voice-recognition company in Russia has likewise developed close ties with the authorities, while tracing its origin to the Gulag.

Nor is Russia exactly a newcomer. The Soviet Union worked heavily on a litany of tools to spy on its own citizens. But for years, internet monitoring in Russia was carried out on the regional level: a hodge-podge of systems that blocked banned websites, as ordered by regional courts. That changed in November, when the Kremlin moved to implement a nation-wide internet-filtering system to block websites deemed extremist and harmful to children — a label often painted with a broad brush to mean anyone who opposes the Putin regime.