Infiltration of private conversations and use of artificial intelligence

A massive leakage of data from the Russian Internet gendarme makes it possible to understand how this structure monitors whole sections of the network and develops tools targeting the “offenses” in Vladimir Putin.

By Benoît Vitkine (Moscow, correspondent)

There is the tip of the iceberg: the prohibition of foreign social networks, the blocking of information sites, legal proceedings for likes or online comments. And then there is the underground work, of a much more important scale, which aims to guarantee a “clean internet”, according to the name of one of the secret programs developed by the Russian authorities.

The detail of this work is now known thanks to a survey published simultaneously, Wednesday, February 8, by several Russian investigation sites, all in exile (Proekt, Mediazona, Agenstvo or Radio Svoboda, for the main ones). The survey itself was made possible by the hacking, in November 2022, of the Internet supervision agency, Roskomnadzor. On this occasion, 700,000 emails and two million documents would have been recovered by Belarusian hackers members of an organization named Cyber ​​Partisans.

On paper, Roskomnadzor is a banal administrative agency, responsible for distributing radio frequencies or ensuring compliance with laws protecting personal data. In reality, it has transformed into a control, censorship and even infiltration structure of whole internet segments. 2> “Foreign agents”

First teaching of these leaks, the magnitude of the blockages made since the start of “the special operation” in Ukraine: during the first nine months of conflict, 150,000 Internet pages and publications on social networks were erased, Concerning in particular the losses of the Russian army or the crimes which it is accused of having committed in Ukraine. Access to 72 Russian media, 23 foreign media and 630 Ukrainian sites was also purely and simply blocked.

As part of this monitoring work, Roskomnadzor agents also share part of their finds with other structures, such as the prosecutor’s office, the police or the FSB, the security services. To this end, thematic chats are used, with evocative names: “false information [on the army]”, “protest feeling”, “destabilization”, “foreign interference” …

In the same register, Roskomnadzor has also established lists of hundreds of journalists and bloggers, but also experts who are used to talking to them. Many of the personalities identified in these lists are then designated as “agents from abroad”. Other personalities, including the world of culture, are also monitored in the same way.

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/Media reports cited above.