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Wednesday, July 1, 1998 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK


World: Europe

Spying on the Net

Security services want to monitor Internet use

Russian secret services are preparing a programme to monitor the country's Internet users, according to the newspaper Novyye Izvestiya.

The plan put forward by the Federal Security Service would allow eavesdropping on every Russian network linked to the Internet, including service providers and academic systems.

Internet groups and journalists in Russia say they are opposed to the scheme, which would allow surveillance without court orders.

A draft document prepared by the FSS argues for the establishment of special eavesdropping apparatus in all Russian "documentary electronic communications networks."

Draft plan on Net

The "listening" equipment would be linked to FSS surveillance terminals to allow agents to "extract information belonging to specific users," the Moscow-based paper says.

Copies of the draft documentation have been placed on the Internet by the Moscow Libertarium group.

Under current rules Internet providers can be asked to assist FSS agents if the security service presents legal grounds for its request, such as authorisation from a prosecutor.

The new FSS proposal would by-pass that formality allowing unrestricted monitoring of Internet use, says Novyye Izvestiya.

US tapping

The plan goes further than tapping measures proposed by authorities in the US.

In America, phone companies have been ordered to develop new systems allowing law enforcement agencies to tap calls remotely.

A task force has been set up to strike a balance between lawfully authorised electronic surveillance, the public's right to privacy and the industry's ability to remain competitive.

But the US authorities have failed to make progress on designing a federal computer security system that would allow Internet surveillance by law enforcement agencies.



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Internet Links

Moscow Libertarium: Draft documents

US Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act

RussiaNet: Profile of FSS Director

Internet Privacy Coalition


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