TELECOM EQUIPMENT OUTFIT Nokia-Siemens has admitted its role in aiding the Iranian government crackdown on demonstrators after the country's disputed 2009 elections.
The demonstrators who relied on mobile phones to coordinate their protests were tracked down through equipment that Nokia-Siemens flogged to two Iranian mobile operators. During a European Union parliamentary hearing on human rights and information technology a spokesperson for the firm admitted that it supplied the Iranian telecom firms with monitoring equipment.
In the meeting Nokia-Siemens head of marketing and corporate affairs, Barry French asked for help from MEPs to "navigate in these challenging times".
While French maintained that the equipment supplied by the company was part of legal requirements set out by the European Union (EU), he added that "We [Nokia-Siemens] deplore the use of this technology against dissidents." Later he added that the firm had learned its lesson to the extent that it had pulled out of the "monitoring centre business".
Despite French's statement, the firm still offers passive monitoring, which typically requires coppers to obtain warrants before any surveillance is undertaken. French justified this by saying that such technology helps law enforcement agencies track down suspected criminals, presumably like those viewed by the Iranian government.
That said, Nokia-Siemens should be applauded for doing something that few large corporations do, by openly admitting to a serious mistake and seeking help from regulatory bodies. It is urging the EU to establish a code of conduct that all telecom equipment suppliers such as itself will have to abide by. µ
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