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The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries


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The reviews on The Red Web
“[Andrei Soldatov is] the single most prominent critic of Russia’s surveillance apparatus.” –Edward Snowden

“If you want to know the history of Russian intelligence, look no further. Revealing, new, and rich in detail. From simple surveillance to electronic snooping Russian-style, a gripping and important study. This is a book you hope Russian officials don’t find in your luggage.” –Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent, NBC News

“Russia hands and Net neutrality advocates alike will find plenty to intrigue in this report from the front lines.” –Kirkus Reviews

“A masterful study of the struggle between the Kremlin’s desire to control information and the unruly world of ordinary digital citizen.” – The Guardian

“The excellent, highly readable tale of the ongoing struggle to control digital life in Russia” – The Los Angeles Review of Books

The Red Web “examines Putin’s power grabs and the Russian government’s use of surveillance, overt censorship, and intimidation through technology in recent years.” – Publishers Weekly

The Red Web is “a well researched and disturbing book by two brave Russian authors. Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan caught global attention with “The New Nobility”, an earlier book on the caste of spooks and strongmen who run Russia. They have now turned their attention to the Kremlin’s control of electronic information.” – The Economist
“Borogan and Soldatov have spent a decade and a half reporting on the shadowy world of Russia’s secret services, and they are Moscow’s premier experts on eavesdropping, censorship and paranoia.” The Red Web is “essential reading for any student of modern Russia.” – The Sunday Telegraph

“Having demonstrated the resurgent power of Russia’s secret services in their first book, The New Nobility, Soldatov and Borogan devote much of The Red Web to tracing the roots of modern Russia’s surveillance programs back to the KGB. It is a convincing effort, as the authors take the reader back to the 1950s and show how, for more than six decades, the Soviet and then Russian state sought to apply its best minds and, eventually, its best technology to the task of knowing who was doing what, when, where and why.” – OpenDemocracy

“Synthesizing their own investigative journalism with historical research and a bit of personal memoir, [the authors] explore the democratizing effect that the Internet has had in Russia and the intense game of whack-a-mole played by [President] Putin and his lieutenants to shut it down.” – The Wall Street Journal

“Russian journalists expose Internet censorship and surveillance in Putin’s Russia.” – Shelf Awareness, starred review

The Red Web is a “gripping book about of the internet and its censorship in post-Soviet Russia… Having covered technology and the security services from the start of their careers in the 1990s, the two Russian journalists have accumulated expert knowledge few can match. And yet they have written a book not for geeks but for anyone who wants to understand how their country works.” – The Financial Times

“This unusual book describes a significant and concealed aspect of current Russian politics. The most troubling aspect of the Red Web may be its implication for Russia’s evolution and its accommodation with the West.” – Library Journal, Editors’ Fall Picks
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.

Drawing from scores of interviews personally conducted with numerous prominent officials in the Ministry of Communications and web-savvy activists challenging the state, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan peel back the history of advanced surveillance systems in Russia. From research laboratories in Soviet-era labor camps, to the legalization of government monitoring of all telephone and Internet communications in the 1990s, to the present day, their incisive and alarming investigation into the Kremlin’s massive online-surveillance state exposes just how easily a free global exchange can be coerced into becoming a tool of repression and geopolitical warfare. Dissidents, oligarchs, and some of the world’s most dangerous hackers collide in the uniquely Russian virtual world of The Red Web.

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