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Nokia, Siemens Helped Iran Rig Networks for Government Control

Illustration for article titled Nokia, Siemens Helped Iran Rig Networks for Government Control

The role of the internet in Iran's recent unrest has been stunning; so too have been the regime's efforts to minimize it. Luckily for the government, Iran's networks are rigged for suppression, courtesy of Nokia and Siemens.

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The core of the regime's online efforts is a process called deep packet inspection, which essentially scans nearly all internet traffic for offending material and can give authorities the ability to block the offending communications or, more importantly, identify where they came from. As you can imagine, this is quite a terrifying prospect for protesters, journalists and dissidents.

Here's how it happened: In 2008, the Iranian government contracted Nokia Siemens Networks, among others, to help update its communications infrastructure, predictably requesting power to monitor and control internet traffic. With the government's full monopoly on the industry and poor human rights record in full view, Nokia Siemens Networks obliged, installing a cutting-edge "monitoring center", which the WSJ calls one of the "most sophisticated" in the world.

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Obviously Nokia and Siemens couldn't have foreseen this exact outcome, but honestly, what did they expect? For a government to use powers like this for good? [WSJ]

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DISCUSSION

The Iranian government put out a contract to help law-enforcement agencies. Thats what the system was installed for.

Blaming the companies that originally set it up is ludicrous. Business is supposed to be separate from politics. This is not CSR, its just finger pointing. If Nokia Siemens had not set it up, someone else would have.

The United States and Germany have essentially similar systems. You plan to say those are rigged for suppression as well?

The government has a tool they got from one buyer or the other. How they use it, is their prerogative, and they should take the blame.

I wonder how shareholders would react if you told them you gave up a lucrative contract because you felt it was against your ethical judgement. The real world functions a little differently than utopia.