WikiLeaks, believed by many to be a Kremlin front, surprised some observers Tuesday morning when it released documents linking a Russian tech company with access to thousands of citizens’ telephone and Internet communications with Moscow.
The 209 documents – part of the “Spy Files Russia” series – highlight how President Vladimir Putin’s government allegedly uses the technology developed by telecom billing company Peter-Service to monitor citizens via mobile cell data and network browsing, according to a press release from the whistleblowing site.
Peter-Service was founded in 1992 in St. Petersburg as a billing provider and has grown to become a major supplier of software for mobile telecommunications in Russia and Ukraine.
“The technologies developed and deployed by Peter-Service today go far beyond the classical billing process and extend into the realms of surveillance and control,” WikiLeaks said on its website.
Its customers include Vodafone, Turkcell North Cyprus, 21st Century Technologies Limited Nigeria and MegaFon – the second largest cellphone operator in Russia.
Peter-Service did not immediately comment on the WikiLeaks release.
The documents – all but one written in Russian – date back to 2005 and go through June 2015. The files describe how “state agencies” access cellphone traffic data and Internet navigation information, WikiLeaks said.
The software developed by Peter-Service includes components for retention and long-term storage of data in infrastructure that was allegedly developed in cooperation with authorities.
Russia has strict surveillance laws in its books and compliance is mandatory; however, WikiLeaks hinted Peter-Service “appears to be quite actively pursuing partnership and commercial opportunities with the state intelligence apparatus.”