Wikileaks has released a new cache of documents which it claims detail surveillance apparatus used by the Russian state to spy on Internet and mobile users. It’s the first time the organization has leaked (what it claims is) material directly pertaining to the Russian state, TechCrunch says.
As ever, nothing is straightforward when it comes to Wikileaks. And founder Julian Assange continues to face charges that his ‘radical transparency’ organization is a front for Kremlin agents (charges that stepped up after Wikileaks released a massive trove of hacked emails from the DNC last year at a key moment in the U.S. presidential election).
So it’s entirely possible Wikileaks/Assange is here trying to deflect from such charges by finally dumping something on Russia.
Writing a summary of the cache of mostly Russian-language documents, Wikileaks claims they show how a long-established Russian company which supplies software to telcos is also installing infrastructure, under state mandate, that enables Russian state agencies to tap into, search and spy on citizens’ digital activity — suggesting a similar state-funded mass surveillance program to the one utilized by the U.S.’s NSA or by GCHQ in the U.K. (both of which were detailed in the 2013 Snowden disclosures).
The documents which Wikileaks has published (there are just 34 “base documents” in this leak) relate to a St. Petersburg-based company, called Peter-Service, which it claims is a contractor for Russian state surveillance. The company was set up in 1992 to provide billing solutions before going on to become a major supplier of software to the mobile telecoms industry.