Russian mobile phone providers switched off their encryption systems for 24 hours on a government order, allowing the Federal Security Service and the police to eavesdrop on all calls.
An alert notifying callers that their conversations could be listened in on popped up on cellphones around Moscow at 9 p.m. Tuesday and lasted until 9 p.m. Wednesday on an order by the Communications Ministry. The alert, depending on the model of cellphone, is usually either an exclamation point or an unlocked padlock. [...]
"The action taken to shut down the encryption system was conducted in accordance to the existing law and in order to prevent crimes," Mobile TeleSystems said in a statement Wednesday.
Well, FSB can listen mobile phone 24x7, because by Russian lows mobile operators should have installed a special equipment which allows FSB to do this. So it is quite a strange, what for do they need to turn off encryption systems.
the explanation was given in one of the newspapers (or something). the idea is that the installed equipment only allows to check the conversations post factum. while with the encryption turned off, it's possible for the field agents to monitor the conversation under question in real-time...
it does sound reasonable to me, at least at the first sight...
Installed equipment allows FSB to listen conversations in the real-time:
3.7. While reading information SORM should provide for transmission of the following information to the DCC HSM SORM NDTC: period of work in the NDTC; telephone or commuted telephone line number or network address (other network address) used for NDTC access; real-time information transmitted via NDTC and belonging to specific subscribers.
[Here is original Russian version].
SORM (Ð¡ÐžÐ Ðœ) - SYSTEM OF TECHNICAL MEANS PROVIDING FOR
THE FULFILLMENT OF EFFICIENT RESEARCH MEASURES
(Ð¡Ð˜Ð¡Ð¢Ð•ÐœÐ Ð¡Ð Ð•Ð”Ð¡Ð¢Ð’ ÐŸÐž ÐžÐ‘Ð•Ð¡ÐŸÐ•Ð§Ð•ÐÐ˜Ð® ÐžÐŸÐ•Ð ÐÐ¢Ð˜Ð’ÐÐž-Ð ÐžÐ—Ð«Ð¡ÐšÐÐ«Ð¥ ÐœÐ•Ð ÐžÐŸÐ Ð˜Ð¯Ð¢Ð˜Ð™)
So the only reason for FSB to order cell-phone operators to turn off encryption is that their want to tap calls right in the air, some 'PR' action or that they're trying to make someone think that they're can't listen conversations when encryption in on.
Well, this is quite stupid disinformation.
FSB is monitoring mobile conversations most of the time - I don't know either this is their equipment at cellphone providers or providers are sharing their own data, but few months ago there was a case (not publicly covered in mass-media), where teenagers, who stole shitloads of money from parents of one of them got caught after FSB (which was connected to the case due to parents, who were quite high on a political stage) figured out one of their cellphone numbers. They had logs of their conversations a week back the time.
"In Soviet Russia, cell phones listen to you!" -Yakov Smirnov, if he were still alive today
Well, sure, technically speaking, but...
Why do they want to tap the calls while in the air, rather than at the base stations like a normal oppressive government?