In Russia, Olympics Watch You

The ever-curious Russian government is reportedly going to monitor “all communications” during the Winter 2014 Olympics. A Guardian newspaper investigation found authorities are hard-wiring the game’s Black Sea resort of Sochi with pervasive surveillance. Investigators “found that major amendments have been made to telephone and Wi-Fi networks in the Black Sea resort to ensure extensive and all-permeating monitoring and filtering of all traffic, using Sorm, Russia’s system for intercepting phone and internet communications.”

And don’t worry, comrades. This up-and-coming scandal already has a catchy name for delicious virality: Ron Deibert, a University of Toronto professor, describes the program as “Prism on steroids.” Loves it.

The real difference between the U.S. and Russia, explains The Guardian, is the laws governing the collection of the data. Leaked reports show that both countries may be monitoring all communication, but (at least in theory) the U.S. has strict laws about when such data can be accessed and analyzed. America’s friends to the East may not have such inconvenient legal checks.

“Business travellers should be particularly aware that trade secrets, negotiating positions, and other sensitive information may be taken and shared with competitors, counterparts, and/or Russian regulatory and legal entities,” warns a U.S. State Department document released earlier this year. The document advises travelers how to practice spy-free communications, including removing batteries from phones when not in use.

But, don’t take the State Department’s word for it. Ask Edward Snowden yourself. Won’t he be at the games?