The PJ Tatler

Spying in Sochi, Or, I Think My Irony Meter Just Broke

After he started his personal national secret leaking campaign, NSA leaker Ed Snowden fled first to Hong Kong and then to Russia. Hong Kong is under the loose control of China’s Communist regime. That regime isn’t what one would call libertarian. Basically, it doesn’t respect human rights at all. Snowden’s choice to flee to that spot on the earth has always been highly questionable.

Snowden is currently in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum. Or semi-permanent arrest, depending on how you look at it.

His stated motivation for scooping up and leaking sensitive US government information was to expose massive, systematic and widespread invasions of privacy that the government was up to.

Ex-KGB man Vlad Putin’s Russia may not have been the best place to flee, if Snowden truly intended to get away from all that spying and surveillance.

While the world focuses on the threat of terrorism to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia this month, spectators in the Black Sea town will face a stealthier threat to their digital lives from Russian spies and tech savvy mobsters, experts and security sources told ABC News.

Russian law allows its intelligence agents to do electronic snooping on anyone inside the country, meaning the phones and personal computers of thousands of foreign visitors, including Americans, are fair game. But even outside of the law, Russian organized crime groups also are well known for hacking smartphones and email for information they use for illicit profit.

The Russian electronic surveillance program, called SORM, rivals any American domestic FBI or NSA surveillance program — with one key difference: the Russians don’t need the formality of a court order to suck up all of the targeted person’s data, which is archived for three years.

Security services are, as required by law, hardwired into the communications infrastructure here so they don’t need the phone and internet companies to give them the data.

Whether Snowden voluntarily gave the Russians everything he has or not, the Russians surely have everything he stole by now.