There’s been a lot of talk about the Iranian government and how they are – or aren’t – monitoring the Internet traffic in and out of the country. Well if the post on the Wall Street Journal by Christopher Rhoads and Loretta Chao is any indication the Iranian government has been getting some pretty high powered help.
Accord to the post the Iranian regime has developed one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms to enable it to monitor and censor the Internet – all on a massive scale.
The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.
Source: Wall Street Journal
So here we have two of the worlds biggest multi-national companies helping a repressive Iranian regime control the Internet flow in and out of the country.
The Iranian government had experimented with the equipment for brief periods in recent months, but it had not been used extensively, and therefore its capabilities weren’t fully displayed — until during the recent unrest, the Internet experts interviewed said.
“We didn’t know they could do this much,” said a network engineer in Tehran. “Now we know they have powerful things that allow them to do very complex tracking on the network.”
Deep-packet inspection involves inserting equipment into a flow of online data, from emails and Internet phone calls to images and messages on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Every digitized packet of online data is deconstructed, examined for keywords and reconstructed within milliseconds. In Iran’s case, this is done for the entire country at a single choke point, according to networking engineers familiar with the country’s system.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Sure these two companies can hide conveniently behind the rhetoric that they only sold the equipment but as their own spokesman said
“If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them,” said Mr. Roome
Now there is nothing we can do directly to help the people in Iran right now other than try and keep what gateways they have open to the web via proxies. However the one thing that we can do is show companies like Nokia and Siemens that selling technology to countries that will even remotely use that technology against its people is unacceptable.
Corporations like these two only care about one thing and that is the dollar. So rather than whine and cry about how bad they are for assisting countries like Iran let them know by affecting their bottom line. Show them exactly what Social Media can do by exposing their financially driven duplicity everywhere possible.
If we can get so riled up over an inconsequential like the ‘Motrin Moms’ this kind of action by global corporations should be a rallying call that actually means something. It’s time to let companies like Nokia and Siemens that their responsibilities lie beyond that ‘sale’. They also have a social responsibility to make sure that their technology isn’t used to abuse people.
Or they are just as guilty as the person who killed a young woman in Iran today.