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July 21, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

The former KGB wants Russian internet service providers to install surveillance software and to build high-speed net connections to the secret police HQ. The draconian proposal could spell an end to individual online privacy in Russia, but according to reports, ISPs fear they will lose their licenses if they fail to comply. The project, codenamed SORM, would force ISPs to divulge personal and statistical information about their subscribers to the FSB – which used to be better known as the KGB. In theory Russian law would require the FSB to apply to the courts before examining data supplied to it through SORM. However, as unhappy Russian net users point out, if the project goes ahead they will be forced to rely on the FSB’s word of honor that their privacy is not being infringed. Maksim Otstavnov, editor of crypto newsletter CompuNomika, has posted a translation of leaked SORM documents at If approved, the rules will provide ex-KGB with technical facility to directly and covertly wiretap any information transmitted via telecommunication networks including telephone, telegraph and Internet, he writes. There will be no means to ensure KGBists obtained a court warrant, required by Constitution and other federal legislation, before wiretapping.

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