Print journalists who use social media at Sochi Olympics could lose accreditation

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There will be no tweeting, no Instagram-ing, no Vine-ing, and nothing caught on "amateur-standard technology," for reporters at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Max Seddon reported Monday in BuzzFeed.

Vasily Konov, head of the state-run R-Sport news agency, which controls accreditation at February’s games, told a seminar for sports journalists on Friday that print reporters using any sort of multimedia would be “considered a serious violation and lead to their accreditation being canceled,” several Russian outlets reported. Only journalists with professional equipment and special badges will be allowed to do so.

But according to a report Monday afternon in USA Today, journalists can tweet and Instagram, a spokesman with the International Olympic Committee said, but they can't post videos.

Non-journalists attending the games will be able to use social media, but they'll be watched while doing so, according to an Oct. 6 reportby Shaun Walker in The Guardian:

Athletes and spectators attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February will face some of the most invasive and systematic spying and surveillance in the history of the Games, documents shared with the Guardian show. Russia's powerful FSB security service plans to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the event, according to a dossier compiled by a team of Russian investigative journalists looking into preparations for the 2014 Games.

In 2012, D.L. Cade reported in Peta Pixel that the London Olympics planned to clamp down on photos and video on social media. In April of that year, journalists filming across the street from an Olympic venue were told to stop doing so, and that those demands could be made under terrorist laws. Poynter's Andrew Beaujon wrote about the strict rules for social media at London's games. Here are the guidelines from London. But social media was a very present observer at those games. The Wall Street Journal's pulled together the top 5 social media takeawaysfrom London 2012, including Samuel L. Jackson stepping up as the unofficial spokesperson. In London, slowing the social media tide may have been tough, but apparently not so in Russia. And they're not just asking politely. The Guardian reports that two journalists, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, found "that major amendments have been made to telephone and Wi-Fi networks in the Black Sea resort to ensure extensive and all-permeating monitoring and filtering of all traffic, using Sorm, Russia's system for intercepting phone and internet communications."

Soldatov and Borogan have discovered that the FSB has been working since 2010 to upgrade the Sorm system to ensure it can cope with the extra traffic during the Games. All telephone and ISP providers have to install Sorm boxes in their technology by law, and once installed, the FSB can access data without the provider ever knowing, meaning every phone call or internet communication can be logged. Although the FSB technically requires a warrant to intercept a communication, it is not obliged to show it to anyone. Tellingly, the FSB has appointed one of its top counterintelligence chiefs, Oleg Syromolotov, to be in charge at Sochi: security will thus be overseen by someone who has spent his career chasing foreign spies rather than terrorists.

This hasn't stopped the games' official Twitter feed, of course, where news of the Olympic torch traveling to space and new ticket designs have been prominent.


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