data digital big brother
© Getty Images for Somerset House / Peter Macdiarmid
FILE PHOTO.
Moscow has revealed a plan to spend $2.4 million on a giant database containing information about every single city resident, including passport numbers, insurance policies, salaries, car registrations - and even their pets.

It will also include work and tax details, school grades, and data from their 'Troika' care - Moscow's unified transport payment system, used on the metro, busses and trains.

The new proposal will undoubtedly increase fears about ever-growing surveillance in the Russian capital, where the number of facial recognition cameras has recently been increased.

Furthermore, a centralized database containing such information will almost certainly be a target for hackers, who often focus on Russian government records with a view to selling them online.

Last year, a Moscow woman discovered that she could buy data on where she had been tracked by the city's surveillance cameras, spending just 16,000 rubles ($210) to obtain details of her movements over a month.

According to the authorities in the capital, the new plan will expand the functionality the mos.ru (http://mos.ru/) portal, a website used by Moscow residents to pay speeding tickets, submit readings from electricity meters, and sign up for many city services, including vaccination against Covid-19.

"It has been operating since 2011 and today allows users to receive more than 370 services... in electronic form," the government's press service said, noting that parents can even use the site to check how well their child is doing in school.


Comment: The new data wasn't necessary before to access the services, just what is their reasoning that it's essential now?


Speaking to Kommersant, lawyer Sarkis Darbinyan noted that "centralizing data always increases the risk of leaks and unauthorized access," expressing his concern about the project.

"In this regard, the model implemented in Scandinavian countries looks much safer, which makes it illegal to store data in one place," he said.

Darbinyan is a legal head of Roskomsvoboda, a project which promotes freedom of information and privacy on the internet.

The proposal has also been criticized by Moscow City Council member and opposition politician Konstantin Jankauskas, who quipped that very soon, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin will have "cameras in toilets and monitor how Muscovites poop and pee."