back to article Russia's blanket phone spying busted Europe's human rights laws

Russia's mass surveillance of all its citizens' telephone communications has been found to be a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which the country ratified in 1998. The Grand Chamber judgment from the European Court of Human Rights is the product of a complaint made by a Russian national, Roman Zakharov, …

  1. Sir Alien
    Alien

    And Russia's response...

    This ECHR ruling effects those in Russia how?

    The EU can jump up and down and rant as much as they want. If this was a law in Russia on Russian soil then the EU can do absolutely nothing.

    If Russia was enforcing installing such monitoring equipment within the EU with EU based communications providers then there may be grounds for enforcement but otherwise this man is out of luck.

    NB: I am not pro or anti Russian. I am simply a watcher sent here to monitor you.

    1. Swarthy
      Go

      Re: And Russia's response...

      This is from the ECHR, not EU. I believe that Russia is answerable to the ECHR.

      1. Steve 114

        Re: And Russia's response...

        And here's hoping Mr Putin will give us an example of how exactly to deal with ECHR rulings which are manifestly contrary to public interest.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Russia's response...

          He'll probably just follow PM Cameron's example, and withdraw from the ECHR if it doesn't change it's rulings to suit UK law, allowing it to override any ECHR decisions it doesn't like.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And Russia's response...

        "...Russia is answerable to the ECHR."

        answerable my ass.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And Russia's response...

        re: "This is from the ECHR, not EU. I believe that Russia is answerable to the ECHR."

        Unlike the UK :( which just ignores the inconvenient bits.

        Still, these days, the UK condones rendition and assassinates individuals it doesn't like on foreign soil, so presumably that makes it OK for the Russians to do likewise...

        British ethics - it's not wrong if you don't get caught :/

        British values... gotta love em.

    2. TJ1

      Re: And Russia's response...

      EU (European Union) != ECtHR (European Court of Human Rights)

      ECtHR enforces the European Convention on Human Rights whose signatory nations are the 47 members of the Council of Europe. Russia joined in 1996.

      See: http://www.coe.int/en/web/portal/russian-federation

      1. Sir Alien

        Re: And Russia's response...

        I was under the impression the EHCR was part of the EU but I stand corrected then. No problem with being wrong as long as something is gained from it in knowledge.

        Regardless, Russia will just ignore this.

    3. Adrian Midgley 1

      ECHR is not EU

      So you might like to rewrite your question/response/whatever it is accordingly.

      I don't think it leaves anything, but YMMV.

      IANAL

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And Russia's response...

      This ECHR ruling effects those in Russia how?

      The ruling, once again proves how the West is bent on humiliating Russian independence in order to impose dubious Western standards and to violate well-established and trusted Russian regulations.

      ...

      oh dear, it reads like Cameron's statement on some EU-cratic ruling, lol...

      1. Mephistro
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: And Russia's response...(@ AC, an hour or so before my comment ;-)

        "The ruling, once again proves how the West is bent on humiliating Russian independence in order to impose dubious..."

        Four down votes! People around here doesn't do sarcasm, do they? ;-)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Russia's response...(@ AC, an hour or so before my comment ;-)

          no, they don't / doesn't ;)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And Russia's response...(@ AC, an hour or so before my comment ;-)

          p.s. they thought I'm a Russian-paid apologist, and they think you are / is one too, for obvious reasons.

      2. graeme leggett

        Re: And Russia's response...

        You are Sputnik International (or Russia Today) and I claim my £10.

    5. James 51

      Re: And Russia's response...

      Just as you were too lazy to read the article, I'm to lazy to explain why what you wrote was nonsense.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A complete waste of time

    Putin will ignore it and carry on as before. IMHO, he wants to just like his heros Lennin & Stalin.

    After all, his name ends with the requisite 'in'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A complete waste of time

      you missed rasputin.

      1. MrDamage

        Rasputin

        The Boney M, or Turisas version?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rasputin

          That's a tough one, Boney M because Disco will never die.

    2. James 51

      Re: A complete waste of time

      It's time to get out!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A complete waste of time

      And Camerin.

  3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    At least Russia does it openly and honestly, which is more than happens in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you're confusing 'openly and honestly' with them not giving a furry rats ass about what the people not in power think.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not so much

        I think you're confusing 'openly and honestly' with them not giving a furry rats ass about what the people not in power think.

        Actually no.

        1. You do not end up with a 90% approval rating if you do not give a furry rat what the people think. In fact, just the opposite. If we compare CaMoron and Putin, Putin has proved again and again that he can correctly assess what his country thinks. He does not give a furry rat what we think though.

        2. They have a law, they have comms regs and to do business you comply to these. Very well defined. They are not hiding it either - it went in 15+ years ago and it effectively does what USA, UK, etc have been doing via hidden and completely unregulated access for 7+ years after 9/11 with no regs and oversight only to be backdated via an amnesty to operators. To be blunt - we copied it from them (after orchestrating all the newspaper rags to howl how badly are they violating democratic principles). We also copied it _WITHOUT_ any of the limitations and safeguards which you get with a well defined regulatory regime.

        By the way - if memory serves me right the only agency with access to the infra are FSB. Everyone else has to go through the courts which quite regularly refuse to grant your average copper or council access to people account details and personal data.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not so much

          90% approval? Three questions.

          a) who is determining it actually is 90%

          b) who is feeding Russians the reports upon which Russians decide they approve of Putin

          c) is it safe to be seen as not approving of Putin?

          I.e. is it a case of propaganda, and apparent conformity in the face of a society where previously speaking out in opposition was not a wise move.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not so much

            As I recall, those publically not approving of Putin, find themselves sampling Po 210 herbal teabags.

            If I worked for the ECHR I'd avoid any tea-parties at the russian embassy for the time being.

            Anon - Cos I'm quite an avid tea drinker.

          2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: Not so much

            None of your namby-pamby 90% stuff. 146% is the current mark to beat.

            gawker.com/5864945/putin-clings-to-victory-as-russias-voter-turnout-exceeds-146

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not so much

            Apparently, the approval rating really is because Russians think he can do no wrong

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34972707

            "Few Russians hold their president directly responsible for the decisions he takes. That's partly because of the age-old tradition here of respecting the man at the top - the tsar, the emperor, the general secretary, whoever it may be. And, partly, because of Russian television which heaps praise on Vladimir Putin from morning till night."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will this madness end? Governments spying on their own people for what?

    Can someone categorically state what the benefit this spying is actually bringing? The way I see it is that the people they are claiming to be after just won't use the technology that has been compromised or use it in a way that won't get them caught. I really can't see some terrorist posting a picture of a bomb to facebook and getting a load of likes or sending a text message about an impending jihad.

    Based on the above I'm getting a tin-foil hat until someone can answer the questions in a manner that alleviates my concerns about what the governments of the world are actually up to and what the end game is with all this information and data because my own conclusion is some kind of thought police in a 1984 style. We'll all be chipped and assigned an IPV6 address soon...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because AC .......

      Big Brother knows none of you citizens are trustworthy, all of you are stealing something whenever you can get away with it or committing some kind of crime.

      So we just figured since the number of phones/internet connections that are bugged already turn out to be equal to all the people who have phones/internet connections we'd prefer to just leave it that way. It's not a bug, it's a feature. If you often forget what you said, don't worry; there's a recording.

      We don't recognize anything the EU or NATO promotes anyway. What is this ECHR?

    2. Pompous Git Silver badge

      We'll all be chipped and assigned an IPV6 address soon...

      Just be glad it's IPV6. A smaller address space would mean many of us would have to be eliminated...

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Can someone categorically state what the benefit this spying is actually bringing?

      Simply put.. control. If you haven't done so, do read Orwell's 1984. It's not about terrorism or crime but about those in power and wanting to stay in power.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Governments spying on their own people for what?

      Because in a world where <10% of the people have > 90% of the wealth the threat is not from without but from within.

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    What is the difference ...

    between what Russia is doing and what Theresa May wants to be able to do (or legalise what GCHQ is already doing) ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is the difference ...

      Same as bombing Syria. It's good when we do it and bad when Putin does it.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: What is the difference ...

        I believe the official line is that it's good when we bomb IS/ISIL/Daesh (pick one) and bad when Putin bombs Assad's enemies (except if it's IS/ISIL/etc)

  6. TJ1

    Grand Chamber panel included the Russian Judge

    Judgment was given by the Grand Chamber of 17 judges, composed as follows:

    Dean Spielmann (Luxembourg), President, Josep Casadevall (Andorra), Guido Raimondi (Italy), Ineta Ziemele (Latvia), Mark Villiger (Liechtenstein), Luis López Guerra (Spain), Khanlar Hajiyev (Azerbaijan), Angelika Nußberger (Germany), Julia Laffranque (Estonia), Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos (Greece), Erik Møse (Norway), André Potocki (France), Paul Lemmens (Belgium), Helena Jäderblom (Sweden), Faris Vehabović (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Ksenija Turković (Croatia), Dmitry Dedov (Russia),

    and also

    Lawrence Early, Jurisconsult.

    It is particularly enlightening to read the Russian Judge Dedov's concurring opinion [0] in the judgement (not the press release) which at clause 4 states, in part:

    "4. Role of the judiciary in civil society

    Nonetheless, I have voted for admissibility and for the finding of a violation of Article 8 of the Convention on account of the fact that the fundamental importance of safeguards to protect private communications against arbitrary surveillance, especially in the non-criminal context, was never addressed in the domestic proceedings.

    The Russian courts refused to address the applicant’s allegations on the merits, mistakenly referring to the technical nature of the impugned ministerial orders.

    As a national judge, I cannot ignore the fact that a widespread suspicion exists in Russian society that surveillance is exercised over political and economic figures, including human-rights activists, opposition activists and leaders, journalists, State officials, managers of State property – in other words, over all those who are involved in public affairs. Such a suspicion is based on past experience of the totalitarian regime during the Soviet era, and even on the long history of the Russian Empire.

    This judgment could serve as a basis for improving the legislation in the sphere of operational and search activities and for establishing an effective system of public control over surveillance. Moreover, this judgment demonstrates that if widespread suspicion exists in society, and if there is no other possibility for society to lift this suspicion without a social contract and appropriate changes in national law and practice, then where the problem is not identified by the other branches of power, the judiciary must be active in order to facilitate those changes. This is even more obvious if there are no other means available to protect democracy and the rule of law. This is an important role which the judiciary must play in civil society."

    His prior points about surveillance and interception in Germany and the UK, and other cases previously before the UCtHR are also worth reading.

    [0] http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng#{%22itemid%22:[%22001-159324%22]} CASE OF ROMAN ZAKHAROV v. RUSSIA Application no. 47143/06

    1. Roo
      Windows

      Re: Grand Chamber panel included the Russian Judge

      Ah, a ray of sunshine.

      I wonder how long it will be before the ECHR takes on her HMG, or are the HMG fully paid up subscribers of the European project ? :)

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Grand Chamber panel included the Russian Judge

      Very enlightening. I do note however that this Russian judge carefully notes past experiences from the Soviet and Imperial eras as contributing to the suspicion that "political and economic figures, including human-rights activists, opposition activists and leaders, journalists, ...." are targeted. The current regime isn't mentioned. Very diplomatic

  7. Suricou Raven

    How will it be enforced?

    I can see Russia complying with this at about the same time as the UK grants voting rights to prisoners - like the same court ordered us to do in 2004. They can address the ruling in exactly the same way we did: Utterly ignore it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How will it be enforced?

      I was wondering. Is there anything that would prevent Russia from ignoring their ECHR obligations as mere "ink on a page"? What kinds of actions can be taken that Russia could not ignore given their rather insular history?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How will it be enforced?

        "What kinds of actions can be taken that Russia could not ignore given their rather insular history?"

        The same kind of actions that we could not ignore in the same circumstances given our extremely insular history. (Nitpicking, Russia can't be insular - have you noticed the length of their borders?)

        I know this is in a sense whataboutery, but then I look from Putin to Cameron, and Cameron to Putin, and although Cameron looks somewhat more pig like they are otherwise hard to tell apart.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: How will it be enforced?

          Upvoted for the Orwellian whataboutery.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How will it be enforced?

          Perhaps not "insular" so much as "introverted". Russia, and China, have a long history of what might best be termed "going it alone" and meeting their neighbors on their terms: meaning either reluctantly or with overwhelming force. Basically, there's little Russia needs that they can't obtain without their own territory. Meaning there are few ways to pressure Russia internationally.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How will it be enforced?

            "Basically, there's little Russia needs that they can't obtain without their own territory."

            However, the little they can't obtain, seems important to grease the wheels, e.g. abundance of top-price properties in London to invest this hard-earned money at home. Or holiday in warm places with a sea view for the lower-tier (forget Crimea for a moment).

            That said, a recent joke by a Russian general: tanks don't need visas". Goes nicely with an older one, from Soviet times: "USSR borders with whoever they wish!"

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How will it be enforced?

              "That said, a recent joke by a Russian general: tanks don't need visas". Goes nicely with an older one, from Soviet times: "USSR borders with whoever they wish!""

              Something happened in 1941 that might explain that attitude. The Soviet Union's big expansion at the end of WW2 was driven by Stalin's paranoia that the US and Britain would build up the border States to try to succeed where the Germans narrowly failed. The Russian position since WW2 has been based on fear of the West, not expansionism.

              Putin has now told the Duma he wants to plan for food sufficiency by 2020. Russia is adopting an isolationist strategy, with plans to expand into the East (and North as Siberia warms). Think what you like about climate change, the Russians seem to be evolving a strategy to deal with it based on energy, food and water security. I wish I could be confident that we were. Our Government can't even gets its act together over energy security.

              1. russell 6

                Re: How will it be enforced?

                The price of oil is also forcing Russia to look inwards. The question will be if the Russians can get themselves organised in time to be self sufficient. Russia is great at exporting raw materials but not good at adding value to those materials by using them to create something. A contact of mine who is CEO of a Russian company which makes equipment for steel producers basically said the Russian work ethos is lazy, they want maximum profit for minimal work. Add to this systemic corruption and I'm not sure if they will pull it off. The middle class is shrinking and many have already left the country. All my Russian friends who can have already left the country. Which leaves only the top tier and the lower classes. Russia will go back to the feudal system, its educated middle class will be nowhere in sight, just the peasants and the aristocracy, as it was during the time of the czars.

                1. Joe Harrison

                  Re: How will it be enforced?

                  Not our experience - I worked for an application vendor where we outsourced development to Russia (Java coding.) Everything came back near perfect and just needed minor cosmetic cleanup from a UK senior developer. A+++ wud buy again

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: How will it be enforced?

        I think, technically, all that is required is for Russia to "derogate" from certain terms of the ECHR citing national security or some other spurious grounds.

        Certainly this is what the Conservative back benchers have consistently called for when the UK has been on the losing end of ECHR judgments.

        It may seem rather feeble, but the ECHR is really a response to the pre-war withdrawal of human rights by stealth - provided governments acknowledge publicly what they're doing, it's pretty much OK.

  8. Jess

    Amazing how many people don't know the difference between ECHR and EU

    (or the EEA for that matter)

    Makes me wonder how many people will be voting against the EU to get rid of something that comes from a different organisation. (e.g Freedom of movement comes from from the EEA, not the EU, which why we can work in Iceland or Norway.)

    Back on topic, This sort of thing is probably why Cameron is so keep to dump our commitment to the ECHR, he doesn't want the same thing happening here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazing how many people don't know the difference between ECHR and EU

      Cameron is not the slightest bit interested in human rights that interfere with his ability to r̶u̶l̶e̶̶̶̶ govern the population. It's almost as if he thinks he has something akin to the Divine Right of Kings.

  9. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    FSB vs NSA/FBI/CIA

    So the argument is the Russians, under Yeltsin, enacted a law mandating the installation of snooping gear from the FSB. While in the US, this is done without any real oversight or control. I submit both governments are morally wrong but the Russians have the integrity to say this is how it is while the ferals try to hide it.

  10. rtb61

    So M$ does it globally with Skype and not a single squeak from the ECHR, I smell a political rat. It's no longer a question of which countries do it, it has become trying a question of trying to find out which countries don't do it.

    Dig beyond the lies and subterfuge and national security bullshit and the number of countries playing politically aligned monitoring of the opposition, becomes quite alarming and even when they don't do it, countries like the US and the UK breach international legal barriers and commit mass interception of computer communications networks and yet again, not one little squeak from ECHR.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile in my own glass house...

    It's a great thing that in the UK we would never do that.

    Neither would our beloved American cousins, would they?

    Nasty Russians, how do they dare to change the law so that they can disobey legally?

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