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.”
The oppressive Iranian regime has used these tools to create a monitoring center that can archive these intercepts provide a valuable tool to intensify repression against those struggling to gain their freedom.
You would think with all of the embargoes that the US and other western nations have placed on doing buisness with Iran and its crazy President Ahmadinejad , it would be pretty difficult for those companies that do buisness with the United States to sell systems to the terrorist regime, enabling it squash to dissidents. If you thought that, “you would think…” wrong. 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. Yet our government didn’t make a peep.
Beyond all of the “embargo”reasons that make this sale wrong, from a human rights perspective it is truly disgusting.
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.”
In Britain MPs are beginning to speak out against the deal.
In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, the MEPs said the hardware was instrumental in the “persecution and arrests of Iranian dissidents”.
But Nokia Siemens said that the implication that it had provided censorship technology was “wrong”
It has previously said that it had installed “lawful” technology in 2008.
“We will be clarifying any inaccuracy in their understanding of our business in Iran with the European Parliament,” Ben Roome of the firm told BBC News.
Nokia Siemens said the technology that it had installed was similar to that used “in all EU member states and the US”.
Mr Roome stressed that the technology not used to monitor, filter or censor the internet.
“When you set up a modern network – as an operator – if you want a licence to operate you have to have a standard surveillance capability in the network,” Christina Dinne, also of the firm, said.
Nokia Siemens told BBC News that it had provided “very basic surveillance” capabilities to Iran Telecom in 2008. The product is called Monitoring Centre and can be used to monitor local telephone calls.
If you believe Nokia/Siemans that should make the dissidents whose local calls are being monitored feel much better.