In Tajikistan, surveillance pays.
A telecommunications gateway built to snoop on people’s phone calls and internet habits is, according to one estimate, making the government at least $2 million monthly.
Around early 2016, President Emomali Rahmon signed off a decree to create an entity called the Unified Electronic Communications Switching Center, abbreviated as EKTs in Russian. The system was — purportedly in the interests of security — to require all digital data to be filtered through a network gateway run by state-owned telecommunications company Tojiktelecom. The state telecommunications is in turn controlled by the state telecommunications agency, headed by Beg Zukhurov, who is related to President Rahmon by marriage.
Protests that this mechanism would lead to Tojiktelecom’s de facto monopoly control over the industry, in complete violation of obligations before the World Trade Organization, which Tajikistan joined in 2013, were ignored.
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