OK normally, I don’t or won’t post something which seems overly
political here, HOWEVER, I think this is just too big, and just reeks
of abuse of technology; it just got under my skin so felt a need to
throw this up.
So if you just happened to be living under a rock, or are just of the opinion that anything which doesn’t happen to take place states-side isn’t worth reading about, then you may not have heard news from Iran.
Recently, Iran was in turmoil amidst allegations that the recent presidential election naming Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was rigged. This led to mass-demonstrations by younger voters and reformists, which in turn was followed by the Iranian Government cracking down on dissidents, with lethal force in some occasions (alleged), jailings, shutting down internet communications to keep people from sending images or posting their views online, and most recently the blocking of the opposition party newspaper.
But the real zinger I just found out about recently is that Nokia Siemens (NSN), sold and installed a monitoring system last year, which would allow the Iranian government to track and monitor dissidents.
According to the Washington Times:
Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), a joint venture between the Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia and German powerhouse Siemens, delivered what is known as a monitoring center to Irantelecom, Iran’s state-owned telephone company.
A spokesman for NSN said the servers were sold for “lawful intercept functionality,” a technical term used by the cell-phone industry to refer to law enforcement’s ability to tap phones, read e-mails and surveil electronic data on communications networks.
In Iran, a country that frequently jails dissidents and where regime opponents rely heavily on Web-based communication with the outside world, a monitoring center that can archive these intercepts could provide a valuable tool to intensify repression.
This isn’t news, as this has been out in the light for some time before the election took place, but I admit I had only been reading the subject of Iran lightly up until the election situation. It just seems too big in light of everything the Iranian government is doing now to forget HOW part of the recent situation became possible. If we don’t monitor sales of our technologies to other countries, this is exactly the kind of abuse of technology that becomes possible. Other transactions in similar fashion include Cisco’s compliance with China in order to gain their business, and even Google and Yahoo have come under scrutiny with their international dealings.
We’re talking about US involvement now, and whether or not we should “meddle” in the affairs and give backing to dissidents who are hoping for a more free society. But it seems in retrospect, if we had done a better job at keeping tabs on the technology we let corporations freely deal out to these governments for a profit, we wouldn’t at least be lending a hand to those attempting to restrict their freedoms.
According to Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights
“This is an absolute threat to the privacy of all Iranian activists. It puts them in danger of being constantly monitored by the intelligence services, something that we know is already happening.”