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When Nokia Pulled Out of Russia, a Vast Surveillance System Remained – The New York Times – Nokia said this month that it would stop its sales in Russia and denounced the invasion of Ukraine. But the Finnish company didn’t mention what it was leaving behind: equipment and software connecting the government’s most powerful tool for digital surveillance to the nation’s largest telecommunications network. The tool was used to track supporters of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny. Investigators said it had intercepted the phone calls of a Kremlin foe who was later assassinated. Called the System for Operative Investigative Activities, or SORM, it is also most likely being employed at this moment as President Vladimir V. Putin culls and silences antiwar voices inside Russia. For more than five years, Nokia provided equipment and services to link SORM to Russia’s largest telecom service provider, MTS, according to company documents obtained by The New York Times. While Nokia does not make the tech that intercepts communications, the documents lay out how it worked with state-linked Russian companies to plan, streamline and troubleshoot the SORM system’s connection to the MTS network. Russia’s main intelligence service, the F.S.B., uses SORM to listen in on phone conversations, intercept emails and text messages, and track other internet communications. The documents, spanning 2008 to 2017, show in previously unreported detail that Nokia knew it was enabling a Russian surveillance system. The work was essential for Nokia to do business in Russia, where it had become a top supplier of equipment and services to various telecommunications customers to help their networks function. The business yielded hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue, even as Mr. Putin became more belligerent abroad and more controlling at home. – SORM has been around in one form or another for almost three decades. It mirrors the surveillance system used by Sweden and GCHQ in the UK. The latest version of SORM is SORM-3 that uses deep packet inspection infrastructure. SORM seems to be based on a mix of Russian made infrastructure and equipment by the likes of Israeli vendor Cellebrite.
Enemies of My Enemy – Foreign Affairs – fear of China is forming blocks by default
Trial of Australian Journalist in China on States-Secrets Charges Ends Without Verdict – WSJ – Cheng Lei’s detention in August 2020 coincided with a sharp downturn in diplomatic relations between Beijing and Canberra – this is likely to be better for Australia’s incumbent prime minister Scott Morrison as is shows progressive realism doesn’t work. That’s not so good for Chinese interests in Australia
Gender pay gap narrows as younger women now earn more than men in 22 major cities – The Washington Post – this might be also down to a decrease of men in higher education as well
Not an April Fool: Dyson announces apocalyptic filter-headphone combo | Ars Technica – if you told me that this was bought in the SEG Plaza in Shenzhen and was a fake Dyson product I would believe you. I don’t know why Dyson went there. Usually its product development is well-gated which is why its electric Range Rover analogue got shelved prior to going into production
The Times view on Hong Kong’s highest court: Denial of Justice | Comment | The Times – the bigger problem for China and Hong Kong isn’t the effect on the legal system but on western leaders now realising engagement is futile
Used Car Prices: Tesla, Porsche Go for Bargains in Hong Kong as Expats Leave – Bloomberg – but there is a topsy turvy aspect to the cost of owning a car. The single biggest cost will be parking
Taiwan’s love motels are safe spaces for couples — Quartz India – Marco Hsiao, a private investigator, has frequented hundreds of love motels in an attempt to provide evidence of adultery for divorce cases—80% of his cases pertain to cheating spouses. He said the rooms are also used for drug deals, interviewing new workers entering the sex industry, and money-laundering meetings.
Web of no web
Goldie: “The ’90s had everything!” – The Face – his comments on smartphones are on the money