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Encryption Communications Government

KGB Wants Control of Email and VOIP 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the proactive-protest-stomping dept.
blair1q writes "The FSB (really just a rebadged KGB) is worried about the abilities that internet communications services such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Skype give to people they consider black-hats. In particular, they don't like the fact that these services allow encryption. They say they aren't going to seize or block them, yet, but are just 'studying' the situation, with an eye possibly toward implementing controls like those in China. Their increased interest in the tools may be related to a DDoS attack on Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's own LiveJournal account, which he termed 'revolting and illegal.'"
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KGB Wants Control of Email and VOIP

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:29PM (#35762572)

    The U.S. government wants the exact same thing [nytimes.com]. I'm pretty sure that almost every government at this point wants *at least* a way to bypass encryption, a "kill switch" for the internet in their country, and some form of email monitoring (all these without any pesky warrants, of course). If your country is an exception, count yourself lucky.

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:34PM (#35762636)

      If your country is an exception, count yourself lucky.

      Count yourself delusional, more like... But if they think they can actually pull this off, the KGB is delusional. Encryption is out of the bag. The software for VOIP and e-mail is wide open. (FOSS) All it will do is drive people from Skype to Jitsi. (Or similar)

      • by Riceballsan (816702) on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:38PM (#35762682)
        Ah but if it drives them to Jitsi or any alternatives, then that is a quick easy way to know who to flag as a terrorist. After all 90% of people won't be educated enough to know the difference if encryption is lost, so the 10% that switch, are the ones with something to hide.
      • All it will do is drive people from Skype to Jitsi. (Or similar)

        No one has ever heard of Jitsi or similar.

        • by nadaou (535365) on Friday April 08, 2011 @05:04PM (#35762998) Homepage

          > No one has ever heard of Jitsi or similar.

          Now they, have, thanks!
          http://jitsi.org/ [jitsi.org]

          Skype doesn't work with my webcam, even though the OS supports it with other programs. My family (don't know about yours) won't mind installing Jitsi, ... win!

          GNOME's empathy is another: http://packages.debian.org/sid/empathy [debian.org]

          Pidgin too.

          • http://jitsi.org/ [jitsi.org]

            First of all, if you are using e.g. MSN protocol with Jitsi all the data goes through Microsoft servers and are again in the exact same situation as before and liable for listening. Thus you have gained nothing. Secondly, if you instead use one of the decentralized protocols you have to deal with all the hassles it entails, like for example setting up the server settings and such. Considering that I will want to be able to chat with my friends and family, and they will want to chat with their friends and fa

            • "It's a lot easier to just" let the KGB or whatever alphabet soup guys listen to all my chat.

              FTFY

              • "It's a lot easier to just" let the KGB or whatever alphabet soup guys listen to all my chat.

                FTFY

                That doesn't refute the point I made, though.

              • by russotto (537200)

                "It's a lot easier to just" let the KGB or whatever alphabet soup guys listen to all my chat.

                Sure. They've got limited resources. While they're listening to me, maybe the real "subversives" are getting away. I take this one step further by eschewing email and chat entirely and just posting everything to slashdot... then the problem isn't keeping it secret, it's getting anyone to pay attention in the first place.

          • "That's right, don't use Jitsi. I repeat, don't use J I T S I. Or Debian Empathy. Emmmmmpathy."

            Why are all the governments of 2011 acting like it's 1994 and the internet is this hot new thing to control after they sorta let it slide for 17 years? Separating forest from trees, all these gov desires are pretty low IQ. "MMMMM. Email. Gimme!" They couldn't have thought of that back when AOL was still the rage? Why now?

            Theory: Fishbowl Effect. After we have finally had our fun with memes and made a fer .com do

            • Re:ever heard (Score:4, Interesting)

              by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday April 08, 2011 @06:28PM (#35763792) Journal

              Why are they doing this now? One word: Egypt. The fact that with Internet organizing one of their old boys club could be run out on a rail? I'm sure that scares the shit out of them.

              As for TFA? I'm sure we'll be seeing more of this in the coming months. Anything that can threaten power the way it did in Egypt will have to be monitored (for the children/terrists/etc) and sadly most folks won't know nor care that everything is being monitored as long as it isn't THEIR door that gets kicked in. If you're doing nothing wrong, right?

              • by ozbird (127571)
                Better get used to ... *sunglasses on* Democracy. YEEEEEEEEAHHHHHHHHH
              • One simple solution, and if every girl ignores or doesnt date or marry any and all govt stooges / spies / LEOs. Then you will quickly see very few applicants to these agencies if it casts you as a 'virgin' outcast.

                Or if you are already with one, leave em.

                • by sznupi (719324)
                  That would run counter to pretty much every evolutionary reinforced social & mating desires in human females...
            • by sznupi (719324)

              Fishbowl Effect. After we have finally had our fun with memes and made a fer .com dollars, the endless years of hyperconnectedness are going to drag on with not even a religious apocalypse to distract us...

              Life / internet: pretty much the same crap, over and over, forever.

        • by ArcadeNut (85398)

          No one has ever heard of Jitsi or similar.

          I have! But only one post ago...

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by timeOday (582209)
        I disagree. Convenience dictates the vast majority of people will migrate to one of a few centralized solutions, which can be pressured (or legislated) to honor wiretap orders. And the few who go out of their way for extra privacy are practically volunteering themselves for extra scrutiny by doing so.
        • by Threni (635302)

          If Google etc allows ssl, and everyone uses it, and the emails themselves are encrypted, then the governments have a bit of a problem. They can outlaw it, require access etc. But then people can add proper encryption on top of that, but this won't stand out trivially because all the other emails will be encrypted anyway, so they'll have to get google to give them access to everyone's email, which will be hard to keep secret. This is probably what they're worrying about.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        If your country is an exception, count yourself lucky.

        Count yourself delusional, more like... But if they think they can actually pull this off, the KGB is delusional. ...

        Um. Notice how all these anti government protests are not in the following countries ... USA, Russia, China.

        Moo.

        • Oh yes... The Tea Party loves Obama...
          I think the difference is that we have them all the time. They did not until now, because it would get you shot.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The government does, but businesses don't; and in the USA, businesses always win

    • by hey! (33014)

      I might entertain the government having this power to invade my privacy, provided they don't get to do it in privacy themselves.

      I think they should get a warrant specifying what they're looking for, and if they don't find what they're looking for they should be required to give you official notification that they've been reading your stuff.

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      Similar, but not the same. It is highly doubtful that a Great Firewall of China will be coming up soon for the US, nor posts saying "$POLITICAL_OFFICIAL sux" would be rewritten in flight to praise $POLITICAL_OFFICIAL as they do in some other countries.

    • by Asmodae (1155077)
      I read FSB as FBI when I first saw this article and was not surprised.
    • I downloaded and deleted from the servers all the mail I'm legally allowed to immediately after I first read about that. My new policy is to delete all mail from the servers, keeping only an encrypted copy on my local main box (and its associated backups). Everyone should do the same, if they are able. Use fetchmail, offlineimap, whatever but do it quick. Remember, if you had nothing to hide they wouldn't be trying to examine your email, citizen! **shudder**
    • by mldi (1598123)
      Oh, the FBI won't have the time of day to look at your decrypted email. They'll be too busy tracking down identity thieves. I hope they like paperwork.
  • Back in the USA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by plawsy (174981) on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:31PM (#35762596) Homepage

    And this is different from NSA, et al ... how?

    • by kvvbassboy (2010962) on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:35PM (#35762650)
      It's Russia, so it must be more sinister and evil.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Indeed, it's not like they're sneaking into other countries and irradiating people to death or anything... oh wait.

        • by elrous0 (869638) *

          You should see what the CIA is doing.

          • By extension, you should see what every secret service is doing. Ask Georgij Markov, Fidel Castro, or Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Oh wait, you can't: some people were doing their job properly (and with ruthless efficiency).

    • by jdgeorge (18767)

      Sounds as if these guys are doing exactly what they should do; evaluating the Internet-related problems they face given their mission to protect their government's interests. I'd be shocked if every major national government doesn't have folks looking at the same problems.

      • What bothers me is that the interests of the government and the interests of the people those governments allegedly represent clash almost head-on.

    • by cobrausn (1915176) on Friday April 08, 2011 @05:02PM (#35762964)
      I love how anytime someone points out how any other government than the US government might be doing evil things, it's immediately assumed to be some attempt by Americans to make themselves look better, and compared to some similar American program. It's as if it is somehow more important that an insult be hurled at the US than attention be diverted to some other country's less-than-honorable behavior for a few moments.

      Trust me, we are all well aware of the failings and bad behavior of the US government. I see about ten articles a day about it. But don't ignore the serial killer next door because a loud, obnoxious, schizophrenic drunk is making noise down the street.
      • by Clsid (564627)

        I don't know if it looks like an attempt to make Americans look better, but it is clearly an attempt to make Russia look bad. First off, it wasn't reported anywhere that Medvedev said that no such measures would come to pass, even if the FSB ends up suggesting it after the end of the "studies". Second, statements like "The FSB (really just a rebadged KGB)" really does not help with objectivity. It's like saying, the French Foreign Legion (the one that was causing havoc in Algeria), or the CIA (America's cou

    • by ozbird (127571)
      "We're the good guys, Marty."
    • by O(+inf) (2033618)
      NSA probably does have access to GMail etc storage (even if Google doesn't know that), but they aren't proposing to ban, say, gmx.de, on the grounds that they have no means of accessing the storage there, nor intercept user communication over HTTPS. Nor will they complain if you host your own mail server and use secure protocols to communicate. Neither TFS nor TFA explain it, but what really made the whole thing so shocking is that FSB blokes have called for banning GMail, Skype etc in Russia unless some me
      • by Clsid (564627)

        Well it's their country and they have every right to do so. What makes you think it's ok to wiretap a phone line but it is not ok to intercept emails or other forms of Internet communication? First off Medvedev said that they aren't going to do anything to block them, but my point is, that even if they do, I would hardly call them irresponsibly. I truly believe that authorities should monitor everyone they deem dangerous to the safety of their citizens, that's why they are the government even if such resour

    • by PPH (736903)

      NSA, FSB, KGB. Entirely different combinations of three letters.

      PPH is the only one you should trust.

  • by bazmail (764941) on Friday April 08, 2011 @04:33PM (#35762620)
    Clean up your own back yard before you go knocking on your neighbors door.
    The NSA has hardware in Google HQ and most likely other US data centers too.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Clean up your own back yard before you go knocking on your neighbors door.

      The NSA has hardware in Google HQ and most likely other US data centers too.

      The speed which which they tracked down the Craigslist Killer shows it's really happening, it's really stored, it's all there for them to pull up when they need it. Including this post and you reading it.

    • So you want Slashdot to report on nothing that is negative outside of the US, so long as they US does it as well?

      Why? Just general US-hate?

      Seems to me this is news no matter where it happens. I've seen Slashdot report on the US government doing plenty of stupid shit, including all the AT&T stuff, so why can't they also report on Russia?

  • This is why everyone should be running freenet, stick your virtual fingers in the mans eyes. http://freenetproject.org/ [freenetproject.org]
    • This is why everyone should be running freenet, stick your virtual fingers in the mans eyes. http://freenetproject.org/ [freenetproject.org]

      Since all the good stuff is outside of Freenet network, what good would using it do?

      • by crowlogic (940856)
        just to piss off the man and devout resources to tracking useless shit
        • So basically, you're saying the point to using freenet is to feed your own delusions and conspiracy theories? No thanks, there's much better uses for it than just to create needless traffic.

          • by crowlogic (940856)
            No, that's not the point, I just felt like writing something snarky to demonstrate the useless of almost all forms of communication
  • than competition.

    So the argument is made that the interwebs need control, a la Great Firewall of China.

    In Post-Soviet Russia Freedom means more control over YOU.

  • If the FSB / KGB, NSA, etc. come down too hard on Gmail, etc. then people who need or desire security will probably start using Open PGP or some other, stronger form of encryption. The smart spook should work on cracking the lowest-common form of encryption and try to get people to use it and think it's secure.
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      If the FSB / KGB, NSA, etc. come down too hard on Gmail, etc. then people who need or desire security will probably start using Open PGP or some other, stronger form of encryption. The smart spook should work on cracking the lowest-common form of encryption and try to get people to use it and think it's secure.

      It's already at work ... and that is the stupidest password for a slashdot account I've seen this week.

  • If this will just force people who care about privacy to start using encryption. Considering how few people care about privacy, that means they will likely have reduced the set of people they 'should' be looking at by quite a bit (i.e., now just terrorists, subversives, and geeks instead of everybody). If the occasional security-concious geek gets caught up in the net and looked at a bit too closely, so be it, might still be a win so far as they are concerned.

    Under these kinds of circumstances, hiding 'i
  • ...steganography.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      ...steganography.

      I am reminded of a puzzle, where an ape is placed in a cage, with two possible ways of escape, as identified by those who placed the ape there to observe.

      The ape found a third way.

      Perhaps the best way to defeat someone nosing in on your conversation is to devise a simple way to communicate in code, which appears normal or actually creates such a massive barrier to decrypting your meaning that no software alone could handle it.

      If I wanted to keep the Cage Bee out of my affairs I might actually resort to writ

    • ...steganography.

      Now your porn collection can also double as personal data storage, what an awesome excuse for ever increasing collection!

      • It also doubles as a good excuse. "No, I do NOT have two terabytes of porn, the pics are just so large because they hide my plans to become ruler of the world."

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        > Now your porn collection can also double as personal data storage, what an awesome excuse for ever increasing collection!

        I wonder if my wife would buy that explanation.

  • KGB? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by yeltski (1438587)
    >>The FSB (really just a rebadged KGB) What is this bigoted and nationalistic editorializing nonsense? What if I said "Federal Republic of Germany" is just a rebadged "Nazi Germany"?
    • by couchslug (175151)

      It isn't bigoted to point out that the former Soviet Union dissolved and that Russia still has a similar set of masters with zero hope for meaningful change.

      Nazi Germany was defeated in battle. The Soviets merely "right-sized" after their economy shat the bed.

      • by O(+inf) (2033618)

        It isn't bigoted to point out that the former Soviet Union dissolved and that Russia still has a similar set of masters with zero hope for meaningful change.

        It's not particularly similar, aside from that both now and then ruling elites cling to power at all costs. However, the social and economical structure they impose on society is vastly different.

    • by O(+inf) (2033618)
      It's even technically incorrect. For example, KGB was also responsible for foreign intelligence, which FSB does not do.
  • We're the officially appointed sneaky cheaters! They're cheating and ignoring us! Mother Russia, tell them to quit it! Unfair, unfair, unfair!
  • Nice story "Chips & Dips"
    Slashdot (really just a rebranded "Chips & Dips") can't resist pulling an acronym out of the mists of time
    Seriously, not that hard to say "Russia's Federal Security Service (aka FSB) wants..."
    The 1980's called and said they wanted their Cold War propaganda back
  • I mean, look at them! They have an economic growth in times of a recession, so their model of society has to be right.

    Let's face it, folks. Communism was the right idea.

    (may contain traces of nuts or sarcasm)

  • I agree... (Score:4, Funny)

    by pyrbrand (939860) on Friday April 08, 2011 @08:13PM (#35764350)

    Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's own LiveJournal account, which he termed 'revolting and illegal.'

    I agree. LiveJournal accounts can often be revolting and illegal.

  • There is no KGB. Putting it in the title is pretty dumb and factually incorrect.

    Yeah, the FSB is the success to the KGB in the Russian Federation, but if you tell a Russian there's no difference between it and the Soviet Union, half of them will probably punch you in the face.

    This kind of stuff just makes Slashdot read like an amateur blog that can't be trusted for news or fact checking.
    • by O(+inf) (2033618)

      There is no KGB.

      There is [wikipedia.org], actually, just not in Russia.

    • by sik0fewl (561285)

      KGB Wants Control of Email and VOIP
      The FSB (really just a rebadged KGB) is worried about the abilities...

      FSB Wants Control of Email and VOIP
      The FSB (successor to the KGB) is worried about the abilities...

      See what I did there? All of the facts, none of the bias!

  • by O(+inf) (2033618) on Friday April 08, 2011 @10:14PM (#35764904)

    Their increased interest in the tools may be related to a DDoS attack on Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's own LiveJournal account, which he termed 'revolting and illegal.'"

    This is very much oversimplifying the part of Medvedev in this story (as well as the story in general).

    This whole mess started when an FSB official (head of their department of information and telecommunication security), in the course of an official meeting, brought up GMail, Hotmail and Skype as an example of a "security problem" due to impossibility of wiretaps (as servers are outside the country, and HTTPS ensures secure connection to them from within), and suggested a ban (neither TFS nor TFA mention this!).

    Shortly after, an official from president Medvedev's administration stated that the ban - and, more broadly, the whole idea that foreign-hosted services are a "security issue" - is a personal opinion of that particular FSB person, and does not represent the official position of that organization nor government as a whole.

    Shortly after that, prime minister Putin's press secretary stated that this is incorrect, and the position is the official position of FSB, that it is well-argued and reasonable, and that Putin takes it with all due consideration.

    So basically it's more of the same thing [nytimes.com] that we've seen before. Whether it's a genuine power struggle between president and prime minister (the elections are less than a year away), or whether they're playing out a scripted "good cop / bad cop" in preparation for the same, is yet to be seen.

  • Really. Stop the sensationalistic headlines. KGB is long gone. It's the FSB. Period.
  • China and Russia are constantly attacking the west.
    It is time for us to install this as well.

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