Russia: In Kogalym, schoolchildren are taught to visit terrorist and drug sites


“Hello, is this the FSB? I found two terrorists, they’re yelling that they were just playing.”

In their search for prohibited information on the Internet, the local police are assisted by the “Cyberdrain” cells, created with the cooperation of seven local schools and a polytechnic college.

Nobody could come up with something better than the authorities of Kogalym: to attract adolescents to monitor the Internet to search for prohibited information in it. It would seem that the efforts of minors are aimed at a good cause – helping the police, but if you get into the heart of the matter, the question arises: “What were the authors of this project thinking?” Uncles and aunts happily report how they were involved with the cells of the youth social movement in Kogalym,“Cyberdrain”, formed from seven local schools and the Kogalym Polytechnic College, without even going into details.

The Kogalym authorities also say that the Department of Information Technologies of Ugra is now introducing a specialized system into the work of Cyberdrain, AIS search, which law enforcement officers use to identify extremist sites. For example, Svetlana Mikhaleva, Head of the Department of Interdepartmental Cooperation in Ensuring Public Order and Security of the City Administration, says that “since the beginning of the year nine sites with extremist, terrorist and narcotic materials have been identified using this program.”

Once again: the children are engaged in identifying those materials that the state seems to have banned even viewing, and for which fines are issued to schools, libraries, or cafes, if suddenly the public internet access provided by them is not properly filtered. That is, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General’s Office, Rospotrebnadzor and the courts, according to the federal law No. 436-FZ,“protect children from harmful information”, sometimes registering absolutely harmless sites in the register of banned sites, and authorities of Kogalym invite children to search in the network of “Bookmarks” for sermons from violent Islamists or content sowing interethnic/interracial hatred. It is unlikely that anyone will believe that minors do not read these materials, which affect the child’s developing psyche in an unpredictable manner.

Yes, we understand that it is impossible to protect children from dangerous information on the internet, and it is hardly necessary to deal with the state — the family’s task is to keep the child from bad habits and bad acquaintances. However, the authorities of Kogalym think differently apparently, revealing before the minors a whole “garden of forbidden fruits.” Naturally, the position of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs also raises questions, since they for some reason consider this practice normal, and even make use of a service such as “Cyberdrain”.

RosKomSvoboda requested comments from experts, and they were extremely surprised by what was happening in Kogalym.

The former FSB officer, lawyer and human rights activist Vladislav Yusupov calls this practice an official crime. Furthermore, for operational work to discover and prevent extremism and terrorism, the data obtained by adolescents from the network are of zero value — they, rather, will even harm the “pathfinders” themselves:

“Children cannot and do not have the right to participate in the search for extremism, because they are not experts — in cases of extremism and terrorism, the participation of the latter is always necessary. And the very fact of inviting children or adolescents to search for such information is the abuse of official authority. In such cases it is necessary to write an application to the Investigative Committee, so that they will understand this. So this cannot be left alone.”

The PhD in Psychology and representative of the Pirate Party of Russia, Pavel Rassudov, commented on this incident in his usual ironic manner:

“I do not understand the logic — why some social movements and law enforcement agencies consider it possible to involve children in the study of drug-related sites? In my opinion, it is a bit early to teach adolescents to bypass to access shops with drug bookmarks.

Well, for students, especially the senior classes, it would be more effective to use them to search for pornographic sites. I hope that the participation in these cyber-searches is not attracted voluntarily-compulsorily.

On the other hand, given that over 6 months, only 9 sites were found by the cyber-hunters, it can be assumed that only one schoolchild is involved in the squad, and that one is a slacker.”

The system of searching for extremist and narcotic sites using cyber-assistants was tested in HMAO in 2017.“Participation in the AIS Search by the activists of the Cyberdrain social movement,” law enforcement officials assure us, “should bring results. Now, training for the use of the program will be organized for the public.”

Translated from RosKomSvoboda: