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Roskomnadzor plans to create a "bot farm" which will imitate human activity – investigation

09.02.2023, 17:41
Photo credit: Ukrinform
Photo credit: Ukrinform

In the coming months, Roskomnadzor plans to launch a "bot farm", to be officially named "Clean Internet". This is stated in the department's internal paperwork, which was handed over to journalists of the RFE/RL investigative project "Sistema" by the Belarusian hacker group "Cyberpartisans" after the computer network of one of the Roskomnadzor's structures, the Main Radio Frequency Center, was hacked, reports Radio Liberty.

The documents describe "Clean Internet" as a "software and hardware complex for the automated creation and management of social media" through bot accounts that "perform some actions and have a certain similarity to a human automatically or following a set schedule."

One of the bot farm's primary tasks is to "fill the created accounts with content to simulate user activity." It is emphasized that the program should work in such a way that bots can successfully pass verification when entering even private groups and communities. Each bot will mimic real human accounts on various social media. According to the developers' concept, the personal profile of each bot is filled with content "in order to create the appearance of a live account:" photos, posts, history, personal data.

Furthermore, the documents show Roskomnadzor's key role in total state surveillance over Russians online, censorship of independent media.

According to the published documents, Roskomnadzor's activities go far beyond the tasks officially laid down by the Russian government, such as monitoring compliance with the law by mass media and telecoms, monitoring the Internet for illegal activities, and protecting children from harmful information.

For instance, "Sistema" journalists found Roskomnadzor to be secretly compiling dossiers on almost all well-known journalists and public figures who are critical of the Russian government, as well as on independent media outlets. The dossiers consist of detailed biographical data and links to personal social media accounts.

Another Roskomnadzor development mentioned in the published paperwork is the "Vepr" program. Its task is to promptly find so-called "information tension points" (ITP for short) online.

"Vepr" should identify the original source of the media event, estimate the size of the audience discussing it, and check the participants for violations of the law.

Ultimately, Roskomnadzor is to use "Vepr" to assess "the ITPs' potential to become an information security risk" and, under certain circumstances, "pass the data to authorized bodies." The Roskomnadzor document archive contains a list of ITPs, which includes over a hundred topics: from "fakes" about the Russian army to images of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Sistema" journalists turned to Roskomnadzor for a comment, but their request was ignored.

As IMI reported, on February 8, the Russian "Agentstvo", which also has access to the Roskomnadzor paperwork, reported that the agency has been helping Russian officials, state structures and private individuals ideologically close to the authorities to restore blocked accounts on international social media.

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