ISSN 2330-717X

Will ‘Electronic Spies’ Oust Human Ones?


By Pershkina Anastasiya and Yulia Ashcheulova

The development of new technologies is easing the work of intelligence services practically day by day. Today, it is possible to trace a person and secretly watch him or her through his or her computer, telephone or car navigator.

Today, one can enter the Internet from practically every point of the globe. But, on the other hand, it is probably the easiest way for secret services to find out in what point of the globe a person is if he or she writes something in social networks.

Besides, at present, one doesn’t even need a computer anymore to enter the web. You can enter it with the help of many devices – from a cell phone to a car navigator.

Earlier, to trace the object of spying, the intelligence agent had to either follow him or her personally or to set listening devices in places where he or she might appear.

Now, intelligence services can secretly film a person through his or her cell phone or notebook.

However, Russian expert Oleg Glazunov believes that the easier way to spy over a person is via the phone.

“In fact, practically every cell phone may be used for listening to and transmitting talks which are held in the phone’s proximity. Moreover, with contemporary technologies, you can overhear conversations via a common stationary phone, even if the receiver is down.”

Some experts are even concerned that technical devices may oust human spies soon.

Former intelligence officer Lev Korolkov says:

“It is very possible that technical devices will soon leave many former spies without jobs. A problem will arise where these people may find new jobs, for they are not qualified for anything else than spying. However, there are many other factors which may influence the government’s decisions on whether to reduce the intelligence services’ personnel or not – the situation in the world’s policy, the economic situation, the possibility of a war and so on.”

“But however far the technical progress may go, there will always be functions in the business of spying which only people can do,” Mr. Korolkov says.

“Sometimes certain information can be achieved only through a personal contact,” he says. “Although, of course, there is no reason to deny the merits of the technical progress. For example, I must admit that the contemporary ways of radio intercept are much more advanced than they were several years ago.”

However, every cloud has a silver lining, as they say. The reduction of the personnel of the intelligence services may make the bosses leave only the best employees at work. And this may make intelligence services work more efficiently.


VOR, or the Voice of Russia, was the Russian government's international radio broadcasting service from 1993 until 2014, when it was reorganised as Radio Sputnik.

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