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Cracking Down on Dissent, Russia Seeds a Surveillance Supply Chain

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New technologies give Russias security services a granular view of the internet.

President Vladimir V. Putin is leaning more on technology to wield political power as Russia faces military setbacks in Ukraine, bruising economic sanctions, and leadership challenges.

Credit: Mark Harris; Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik, Agence France-Presse—Getty Images

Russia has built a network of technology contractors to supply it with surveillance equipment in order to spy on and quash internal dissent.

Documents from Russian surveillance providers acquired by The New York Times indicate the products can monitor certain kinds of activity on encrypted applications like WhatsApp and Signal, track the whereabouts of phones, de-anonymize social media users, and breach people's accounts.

The documents say simple-to-use software that interfaces into telecommunications infrastructure offers multiple surveillance applications like collecting passwords inputted on unencrypted websites.

These tools enhance propaganda campaigns, Internet censorship, and other Russian programs to control public opinion and suppress dissent. They form the seeds of a commercially available toolkit that autocrats can use to implement mass online surveillance.

From The New York Times
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