February Internet Freedom Update

“Hello, is this the FSB? I found two terrorists, they’re yelling that they were just playing.”


RUSSIA
Moscow becomes the first Russian city with total surveillance
The Moscow government has planned to provide police with facial-recognition glasses, and this system will also be connected to traffic cameras this year.
The Department of Information technology (DIT) of the Moscow City Hall will order the development of augmented reality glasses with facial recognition capacity for the police, said sources involved in the preparation of the project and the interlocutor of RBC in the city hall.
Moscow’s mayor Sergey Sobyanin announced the street camera facial recognition system this January: “Facial recognition to search for criminals has already been implemented in the subway, and this year will be on the street cameras. And it would be cool: criminals will stay away from Moscow, they can’t hide here.”
According to him, currently, the urban video surveillance system has 167,000 cameras — they are in courtyards, entryways, parks, schools, clinics, retail outlets and construction sites, as well as in the halls of the Executive Branch and other public places. Sobyanin noted that footage from the cameras is used in the investigations of about 70% of offences.
(https://roskomsvoboda.org/45065/)
Complaints from citizens will now trigger unscheduled inspections of internet companies
The Russian government has approved new rules for the organization and implementation of state control and supervision of personal data processing.
Accoring to Roskomnadzor, the audits are conducted in relation to the activities of companies (their documents, local acts and information systems) for compliance with the Federal law “On personal data”.
Complaints from citizens with proven facts of human rights abuses and violations identified by supervisors will now be a ground for unscheduled audits, which will be conducted after consultation with the Prosecutor’s office.
(https://roskomsvoboda.org/45205/)
Several regions of Russia have cyber-surveillance squads
Authorities continue to support organizations that monitor the internet and collaborate with government agencies to identify “prohibited materials”, but in some regions they have gone further by entrusting these organizations with the surveillance of students.
In a number of republics (states) of Russia, local authorities continue to create cells of pseudo-public cybersquad organizations. They are entrusted with legally questionable tasks. For example, last year we learned about the involvement of the Kogalym authorities in monitoring the internet to search for materials of extremist, terrorist and drug-oriented content accessible to minors.
The same trend is continuing this year. Ugra reported on the establishment of cybersquad cells for as many as 151 of the General Education organization districts, “to ensure information security”. According to the district’s Department of Public and External Relations, the cybersquads only checked 11,789 internet resources in the last year. Complaints included resources where published information was aimed at the promotion of drugs or suicide, among other things. The department said that young people identified 774 antisocial actions on the internet, and at the request of cybersquads 330 internet pages were taken down by Roskomnadzor.
Concerns have been raised about the age of these students monitoring extreme content, as they are hardly young adults.
Strange methods of working with young people have been demonstrated the leadership of one of the medical educational institutions of Kazan. A video has spread online, which shows an assembly in a medical college where students are warned about the cooperation of the college administration with some local cyberquad, and its spying on students’ social network accounts:
“We work with Cybersquad of the Republic of Tatarstan. All of your social networks, your contacts, Telegram, Instagram, are under control, under our strict control. Because again, our goal is the health of the citizens. Psychological, ideological and moral health. These are the three main components.”
If this is not bravado from the college teachers, but a very real fact, then here is a violation of Russian law, since we are talking about unauthorized spying on citizens, even “informally”. It is known that the regional cybersquad office appeared in Tatarstan in 2016. Citizens who enter there conduct “raids” on the web in search of content that could be dangerous. Apparently, during these questionable activities, “cybercombatants” acquired a taste [for interesting content], and the administration of the university decided to pass the task of teaching onto somebody else’s shoulders, while at the same time trying to discover the secrets of their students. But thank you, dear teachers, for at least warning about surveillance…
(https://roskomsvoboda.org/45182/)
State Duma adopts law on internet restrictions for military personnel
The text of the new legislation forbids military personnel to post information about their close relatives, colleagues, command, or locations of military units, and restricts the use of devices that can distribute audio, photos, videos and location data via the internet. All in all, this seems reasonable from a military point of view.
(https://roskomsvoboda.org/45133/)
Above content was mostly translated and paraphrased from Roskomsvoboda (CC4-licensed) by an anonymous student of Russian with the help of Google and Yandex machine translation services.
USA
Google Fesses Up To Hidden Microphone In Nest Home Security Platform
https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190220/11293941638/google-fesses-up-to-hidden-microphone-nest-home-security-platform.shtml
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