Russia Installed Surveillance Cameras Inside Sochi Hotel Bathrooms

As we covered yesterday, Russia’s version of the National Security Agency, known as the Federal Security Service (FSB), is using what are called System of Operative-Investigative Measures (SORM) boxes to wiretap all electronic devices at the Sochi Olympics. If you’re there, the FSB is tracking you.

But that’s not all. It appears as if Russia, the current home of privacy crusader Edward Snowden, has installed surveillance cameras in hotel bathrooms. How do we know this? The deputy prime minister of Russia, Dmitry Kozak, admitted it to the press (via Geoffrey Ingersoll).

“We have surveillance video from the hotels that shows people turn on the shower, direct the nozzle at the wall and then leave the room for the whole day,” he said. An aide then pulled a reporter away before Mr. Kozak could be questioned further on surveillance in hotel rooms. “We’re doing a tour of the media center,” the aide said.

A spokesman later walked back the remark, but Kozak said what he said in reaction to Sochi visitors who are complaining about conditions in various hotels — no doorknobs, etc.

The shocking thing about this is that everyone seems shocked — about this and about the hacking. Who didn’t know about Russian hackers? And, by the way, if the hackers who broke into NBC News reporter Richard Engel’s computers were politically motivated, do Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden think its permissible?

Again, as with the NSA story, Russia’s surveillance operations are well known, as is its “PRISM on steroids.” U.S. State Department warned in advance of this news back in the Fall to leave electronic devices with personal information at home and take only “clean devices” to Russia.

Consider traveling with “clean” electronic devices—if you do not need the device, do not take it. Otherwise, essential devices should have all personal identifying information and sensitive files removed or “sanitized.” Devices with wireless connection capabilities should have the Wi-Fi turned off at all times. Do not check business or personal electronic devices with your luggage at the airport. … Do not connect to local ISPs at cafes, coffee shops, hotels, airports, or other local venues. … Change all your passwords before and after your trip. … Be sure to remove the battery from your Smartphone when not in use. Technology is commercially available that can geo-track your location and activate the microphone on your phone. Assume any electronic device you take can be exploited. … If you must utilize a phone during travel consider using a “burn phone” that uses a SIM card purchased locally with cash. Sanitize sensitive conversations as necessary.

As a foreign policy reporter, at least Richard Engel was aware of this and his hacking experience was part of a deliberate experiment to see how prevalent the hacking is.

So, anyone still feeling bad about Norway spying on Russia?

Bob Cesca is the host of the Bob Cesca Show podcast, a twice weekly political talk show. He’s also a contributor to Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.