An anonymous reader writes "The newspaper Kommersant reports that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (formerly part of the KGB) has invested 30 million roubles (USD $940,000) on 'blog and social network intelligence' programs (Google translation of Russian original). A small part of that money is used for surveillance and analytics, but 22 million roubles (USD $690,000) is invested in 'mass distribution of messages in social networks with a view to the formation of public opinion.' Which presumably can be rephrased as 'launching massive pro-Kremlin astroturfing propaganda spambots in order to stifle and undermine political dissent.' The brazen Russian government acknowledgement of this investment indicates that the Kremlin does not think of such activities to be in any way illegal or unethical. No words whether these spambots would respect any anti-spam laws or the Terms and Conditions of victim websites. But hey, now you can accuse anyone you disagree with online of being a 'KGB bot'!"
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