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Russian police spy on people's mobile data to catch thieves

New devices to be used by the Moscow Metro subway police will track data on cell phone SIM cards from up to five meters away.

Amanda Kooser/CNET

Here's some irony: as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden hides out in Russia for exposing the U.S. government's secret surveillance program, the Russian Police Department is commencing an invasive spying program of its own.

Under the guise of catching cell phone thieves, Moscow police will soon be using machines that can read data on subway passenger's cell phones, according to Russian newspaper Izvestia. Moscow Metro police chief Andrei Mokhov announced on Monday that these devices can track data on SIM cards up to five meters away.

Reportedly, the tracking device will alert the police if it finds cell phones that are on authorities' lists of stolen phones. Closed-circuit televisions located in the subway stations will also be recording the people walking by as the device alerts police. According to Izvestia, these devices can follow all passengers without exception.

While it's illegal to track people without a warrant in Russia, there isn't a law against monitoring company property. Apparently, SIM cards fall under company property.

Via Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.