On February 5, Andrei Soldatov gave a public lecture discussing his book: The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries.
The Internet in Russia is either the most efficient totalitarian tool or the device by which totalitarianism will be overthrown. Perhaps both. On the eighth floor of an ordinary-looking building in an otherwise residential district of southwest Moscow, in a room occupied by the Federal Security Service (FSB), is a box the size of a VHS player marked SORM. The Russian government’s front line in the battle for the future of the Internet, SORM is the world’s most intrusive listening device, monitoring e-mails, Internet usage, Skype, and all social networks.
But for every hacker subcontracted by the FSB to interfere with Russia’s antagonists abroad—such as those who, in a massive denial-of-service attack, overwhelmed the entire Internet in neighboring Estonia—there is a radical or an opportunist who is using the web to chip away at the power of the state at home.
Andrei Soldatov unpacked the theme of his book and discussed the tension between Russia’s digital dictators and online revolutionaries. He also provided insights into Russia’s hacking of the 2016 presidential election and how Russia came to embrace the disruptive potential of the web and interfere with democracy around the world.
Andrei Soldatov is a Russian investigative journalist and Russian security services expert. Together with journalist Irina Borogan, he is a co-founder and editor of the Agentura.Ru web site and co-author of The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries. The Red Web was named A Library Journal Best Book of 2015 and NPR’s Best Book of 2015.