Public Tender for an Internet Content Monitoring System, really strange.

Pierluigi Paganini November 13, 2011

Few days ago I have partecipated to an open discussion started by Stefano Mele, a security  and cyber-terrorism expert, on the development of Internet Content Monitor System by the Soviet government.

In April, the “Russian Federal Service for Supervision Telecoms” has announced it that it has launched a tender for developing a Content Monitor System with a budget of $ 530,000.  Following the tender the development phase was started in august and have to be completed in December. After an initial amazement is legitimate to ask  the following questions?

  • What is a Internet Content Monitor System and what is its real purpose?
  • Why lead a public tender for the development of such systems? Governments and agencies of many countries already have similar platforms that are used to analyze web behaviour of their citiziens and the relationships between them. Sometimes such systems can be used for genuine political and propaganda to influence the common sentiment on particular issues.
  • What are the risks related to a wrong usage?

Let us proceed by steps:

But what are they and what are these control platforms?

The system, according to official statements of government representatives, will be used for content analysis of online media outlets. Of course, systems with these characteristics can be used for the other purposes allowing the monitoring of any action or form of protest that can be expression of dissent against the government. The system must be able to analyze information composed by text and also pictures and videos on subjects which could be used to affect the subconscious mind with subliminal messages or similar.

Why lead a public tender for the development of such systems?

It is difficult to understand the real reasons. Why issue a public tender? The assumptions may be different and imaginative:

  • using the public tender to justify financial flows to an entity in some way related to the government and toward which he is unable to transfer money in a different way.
  • The system may has been already realized and the official message formalizes its existence, a psychological operation to communicate to Russian citizens a specific message “pay attention, we’re monitoring you and we have the technology to do this”.
What are the risks related to a wrong usage?
The main risk is the use of the system that can be used to monitor all the “unofficial” media sites like blogs, forums and everything online. The risk of couse have no borderline, Russian or not, the threat is real. Anyway the event is the demostration of a high interest of all the government on the new form of communication used in internet.
Official links:

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