Russia’s “Carnivore” under fire

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Russia’s Supreme Court has taken aim at that government’s infamous surveillance program SORM (similar to the FBI’s controversial “Carnivore” technology), issuing a decision that could weaken the program’s frighteningly broad control over private correspondence, the MOSCOW TIMES reports.

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SORM — or System for Operational-Investigative Activities — requires communications companies to install equipment that allows Russia’s FSB (the KGB’s successor agency) to spy on its citizens’ transmissions, including those conducted over the Internet. (See Feb. 4 MoJo Wire story.) Though technically the FSB would need a warrant to survey any e-mails, critics charged that the organization would essentially be able to snoop on anyone.

In the recent court case, filed by a St. Petersburg journalist, the court ruled that law enforcement agencies must inform Internet providers and telephone and paging companies if they are listening in on their clients. Many critics remain skeptical, saying that the ruling does not necessarily mean communications companies will, in turn, tell their customers they are being spied upon. However, the case could potentially lead to more far-reaching prohibitions on government surveillance.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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