Moscow to track subway riders’ mobile phones

Aug 5, 2013
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Moscow’s metro system will soon be equipped with devices able to read data off people’s mobile phones.

The chief of the metro police force, Andrei Mokhov, made the announcement 29 July, Radio Free Europe writes, citing the Russian daily Izvestia. The devices, which will have a range of five meters, will be used to identify SIM cards and cross check them with a list of stolen SIM cards. If a match is found, the information would then be relayed to police.

Pictures would simultaneously be taken from closed-circuit cameras in metro stations,Global Post reports.

Mokhov said the devices will not violate laws against tracking people without proper permission, because SIM cards remain the property of the network provider.

Some experts were critical of the plan, Izvestia notes.

“It is obvious that the cost of such a system is incomparable to the value of all stolen phones,” Russian Security Association director Alexander Ivanchenko said. He said the short range of the sensors meant they would have to be installed every 10 meters.

A retired police colonel, Yevgeny Chernousov, said the system was probably intended to aid the fight against terrorism.

Then-President Dmitry Medvedev ordered heightened security measures after two suicide bombers linked to Caucasus Islamist groups detonated explosives in the metro in March 2010, killing 40 people.

There will be also be increased police presence in the metro as well as a new video system and police database to scan people and bags for anything suspicious, Izvestia reports.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jason Rogers.

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Transitions Online ( is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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