Iran has long been known as a volatile state, prone to violent authoritarian activity that continuously threatens the security of its inhabitants. Telephone calls in Iran are carefully monitored by government security agencies: the slightest whiff of a political discussion and your conversation is hastily disconnected.
While most of the world stands by, aghast that freedom of speech can be so flippantly disregarded, there are companies who are looking for opportunities to turn it in their favour, to make a profit at the expense of those without a voice.
Once such company is Nokia Siemens who, it is alleged, have assisted the Iranian Government in setting up a state of the art surveillance system with which they can monitor the use of fixed lines, mobile phones and text messaging within the country. According to their 2009 sustainability report:
…Nokia Siemens Networks provided a monitoring center to allow Iranian law enforcement authorities to implement the Lawful Interception capability in MCI’s mobile network…
Iranian Human Rights Campaigner Isa Saharkhiz is bringing a case before the US Federal Court which, if successful, will call Nokia Siemens to account for their actions, and to use their government connections to call for Saharkhiz’ release from custody.
Saharkhiz was arrested, with the help of this technology, because of his support for the opposition leader, Mehdi Karroubi. Amnesty International have commented that they:
“…[consider] him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely on account of the peaceful expression of his views, including regarding the outcome of the election and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.”
Sources: Zdnet, The Guardian, Google News.