On Wednesday 30th September, The Henry Jackson Society’s Dr. Andrew Foxall hosted a book launch with Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, cofounders of Agentura.Ru. and authors of The New Nobility.
Soldatov and Borogan spoke about the history of surveillance in Russia; outlining the extent of surveillance under Putin; further arguing that the Kremlin uses online-surveillance as a tool of repression and geopolitical warfare.
Mr Soldatov further outlined the history behind Russia’s interest in espionage, dating back to 1949 and claimed that even then, they were desperate to find voice-recognition technology.
Mr. Soldatov later developed his argument, outlining the fundamental differences between the West and Russia over ideologies regarding lawful interception. He emphasised the fear that there has now been a return to sophisticated surveillance, even remarking how FSB generals are still worried about making personal phone calls.
Later, the focus of conversation moved to Putin’s struggle against the Internet and how he cannot efficiently censor online space since it is not an organised, hierarchical structure. With its content having always been generated by the people – Putin has failed to realise the difficulty of online censorship.
The Q&A session was heavily linked to Edward Snowden’s refuge in Russia. Andrei Soldatov mentioned that many were disappointed by this decision, since many regressive Internet measures were formerly justified by his revelations.