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Russia is building a centralized video surveillance system

The Russian government is taking a page out of China’s book (again) and is laying the groundwork to building a national video surveillance system that it will most likely use to keep a foot on its citizens’ necks.

Citing anonymous sources, Russian news outlet Kommersant reported last week that the Russian government intends to centralize and aggregate streams from video surveillance systems from all over the country to a data center it is building in Moscow.

This new national surveillance system is scheduled to launch by December 16 and will be run by the Moscow Department of Information Technology.

This is the same department that has been running Moscow’s city-wide CCTV system, complete with facial recognition applied to streams from more than 175,000 cameras from across 4,000 city locations—which was infamously compromised back in 2019 [English coverage].

Kremlin officials said they need to centralize streams from all over Russia in Moscow because “no region can afford full-fledged computing power to process such a volume of data” and in order to allow law enforcement agencies to crack down on increased “terrorist threats.”

Authorities are most likely referring to the recent explosions across the country—signs of obvious increasing dissent—but Kommersant also points out that the same system could also be used to identify and track down draft dodgers across Russia.

The Kremlin’s plan comes as reports are emerging from Russia about the government’s desperation to get hold of new cannon fodder… we mean recruits… for its military force fighting in Ukraine. According to WaPo, Russian military and police forces have been seen handing out mobilization forms to men in its larger cities, in public spaces, apartment building lobbies, metro stations, malls, and even cafes and restaurants.

Until now, the vast majority of recruits have been from Russia’s minority groups and its smaller cities, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the local population, who have been fighting back by setting local recruitment centers on fire for months.

The war, already very unpopular in Russia’s larger cities and cosmopolitan areas, is expected to trigger even more protests as a small inconvenience for most has suddenly turned into a matter of life and death—protests and unrest the Russian government has been trying to stay ahead in recent months by tightening internet censorship rules to “China level” and now by the centralization of all CCTV video feeds under the Kremlin’s nose.

Overview: Russian video surveillance

Kommersant reported last week that the Russian government intends to centralize and aggregate streams from all video surveillance systems from across the country in order to allow law enforcement agencies to crack down on increased “terrorist threats.” This new national surveillance system is scheduled to enter into effect by December 16 and will be run by the Moscow Department of Information Technology. This is the same department that has been running a similar facial recognition system on all of Moscow’s video streams for the past decade already. Authorities cited the recent explosions across the country, but some IT privacy experts also fear this new system might also be used to track down draft dodgers across Russia’s far East. Read more: Жителей регионов распознают издалека

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