You would think with all of the embargoes that the US government has on doing buisness with Iran and its crazy President Ahmadinejad , that it would be pretty difficult for companies that do buisness with the United States to sell systems to the terrorist regime that would enable it squash dissidents. Of course if you thought that, “you would think…” wrong.
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.
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.
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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.
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.”