Back in April, Eli Lake of the Wash Times times Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), a joint venture between the Finnish cell-phone giant Nokia and German powerhouse Siemens have sold a “big brother-like” spy system to Ahmadinejad’s nut house:
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 monitor electronic data on communications networks.
Lily Mazaheri, a human rights and immigration lawyer who represents high-profile Iranian dissidents, said she had suspected that the government had increased its capability to monitor its perceived enemies.
Recently, one of her clients was arrested because of instant messaging he had participated in with Ms. Mazaheri, she said.
“He told me he had received a call from the Ministry of Intelligence, and this guy when he went to the interrogation, they put in front of him printed copies of his chats with me. He said he was dumbfounded, and he was sent to prison.”
This has allowed the oppressive Iranian regime to build a monitoring center that can archive these intercepts provide a valuable tool to intensify repression against those struggling to gain their freedom.
Heres the rub, over the past four years, Siemens had done almost a billion dollars of business with the US Governement, Nokia is one of the leading mobile handset providers in the United States.
Beyond all of the “embargo: reasons that make this sale wrong, from a human rights perspective, this new system will help the strong-armed Iranian leadership to monitor (and punish) dissent.
But William Daly, a former CIA signal-intelligence officer for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology who retired in 2000, said the monitoring center in Iran will be used to “monitor dissidents and those ayatollahs who oppose the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei].”
Mr. Daly, who provided technical assistance on surveillance missions for the CIA, said that lawful intercept as a concept was created by the cell-phone industry to provide law enforcement agencies the ability to track criminals and terrorists.
Indeed, the telecommunications industry’s own international standards require that data networks allow law enforcement to intercept phone calls, e-mails and other electronic data.
“This functionality is offered by all major mobile and fixed network system vendors,” Mr. Roome said. “Such functionality can provide the proper authorities with an important tool for the investigation of serious criminal activities, such as terrorism, child pornography or drug trafficking. The use of such surveillance is based on local legislation and typically overseen by high-level independent government bodies, such as courts.”
Mr. Daly said, however, that the technical switches telecommunications companies embed in their systems can easily be abused.
“The concept of ‘lawful intercept’ came about with the development of cellular phones,” he said. “They had no way of monitoring them if it did not go through a landline switch. With [Global System for Mobile communications, or GSM], it is possible to communicate in the cell without going to the switch. This was part of the basic argument for why they developed it. But the real answer is that governments want to know what their people are doing.”
It begs the question why isn’t the United States putting a billion dollars worth of pressure on Nokia Siemens Networks ?
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HOTAIR has the Latest on the Iranian Prostests HERE