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Senators Want To Punish Nokia, Siemens Over Iran 392

Posted by kdawson
from the no-cookies-for-you dept.
fast66 writes "After hearing about Nokia-Siemens sale of Internet-monitoring software to Iran, US Senators Schumer and Graham want to bar them from receiving federal contracts. They planned the action after hearing about a joint venture of Nokia Corp. of Finland and Siemens AG of Germany that sold a sophisticated Internet-monitoring system to Iran in 2008. According to Nextgov.com, Schumer and Graham's bill would require the Obama administration to identify foreign companies that export sensitive technology to Iran and ban them from bidding on federal contracts, or renew expiring ones, unless they first stop exports to Iran."
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Senators Want To Punish Nokia, Siemens Over Iran

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  • by topham (32406) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:33PM (#28523847) Homepage

    This is bull shit. Cisco sold the same type of stuff to China.

    This is just more bullshit for the U.S. government to work around trade agreements they've signed in the past.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mehtars (655511)
      China does not threaten to bomb israel or destabilize iraq.
      • by SquirrelsUnite (1179759) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:54PM (#28524007)
        So it's not about freedom or democracy just good old Realpolitik? I don't hate the idea but why not let everyone decide individually if they want to boycott these companies? I'm sure Nokia does more business with consumers in the US than the government and Siemens could be hurt pretty bad if the moral outrage was strong enough.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by malkir (1031750)

          I don't hate the idea but why not let everyone decide individually if they want to boycott these companies?

          ...because people are stupid.

          • by EbeneezerSquid (1446685) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:27AM (#28524203)
            Individuals may boycott these companies if they wish.
            The bill doesn't ban them from doing business IN the United States,
            It bans them from doing WITH the United States Government.

            In other words, as a unit, the Government would be boycotting these companies.

            I do agree with the double-standard; however, The Chinese Communist Party has been far more accepting of gradual loosening and openness than has the Iranian Mullahs. Engagement does work, if the organization you are attempting to engage with is a rational actor.
            • the [Chinese] Party's ideals are not driven by religion - fundamentalist or otherwise.

              • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:15AM (#28524825)

                Exactly. Open trade and relations with the chinese works because their govt is corrupt because it just wants power and riches and will do whatever it can to balance the two against it's citizens whether that's another tianmen or largely letting them live their lives in peace if not actual freedom.

                Iran on the other hand literally believes that god himself demands they maim and/or kill anything standing in the path of their aims of nuclear genocide and creating a wahhabist world and nothing you do or say is ever going to change that unshakeable belief that the most important thing is to kill or convert as many nonbelievers as possible.

                In short you can convince someone whose a greedy asshole to give you a lightbulb so EVERYONE in the room can see. You can't convince the guy chewing on pieces of his own face in the corner not to try and rearrange your insides when the voices tell him to.

                • All free countries want power and wealth. China just beat us by figuring how to have everything both ways.

                • by pjabardo (977600) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @10:23AM (#28527973)
                  Iran wants to create a Wahabist world? Are you crazy? Who wants to create a wahabist world is the dear US ally Saudi Arabia. In a world were wahabists are strong the first victims would be the shi'a, which, as a coincidence, is the main religious group in Iran!!!

                  The ironic thing in the present situation of Iran is that western media is portraying the Mousavi guy as a reformer when he openly calls for returning to the teachings of Khomeini!?!. He should know about that since he was prime-minister (a position which no longer exists in Iran) in the 80's, coincidentally, when the worst attrocities of this awful regime were being committed. What were those attrocities? Murdering liberals, socialists, communists and seculars in general in their thousands all over the country, beginning in universities.

                  Tne funny thing is that even with such a despicable regime, Iran never invaded or bombed any other country to "the stone age" as many commentators say. On the other hand, Iran was invaded by Saddam Hussein who was doing US's bidding.

                  If you want to talk about crazy people hearing voices in their head, Iran appears to be the most "reasonable" place in the wretched Middle East. It is (with Israel) the only country in the region were election results even though rigged in several ways are not known in advance. Hell, it is one of the few places were there are elections!

                  If the US wants to "bring democracy to the middle east", it should be simple: start with US allies such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt. At least they would certainly hear what the US has to say. But I have a feeling that isn't really the objective.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by shentino (1139071)

              Engagement does work, if the organization you are attempting to engage with is a rational actor.

              That's the reason it won't work.

          • About as stupid as these senators apparently. I mean really....

            Siemens, not bidding on federal contracts?

            Bwaaaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaahaaaaaaaaahahhaahhahahaa

            uh huh mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

            my side hurts now. Maybe these senators don't realize, but either directly or indirectly, you'd be hard pressed to find a federal contract that didn't support Siemens somehow. They're a $120 billion a year company making a gazillion little gadgets most senators never heard of, used in everthing from bulldozers to fire alarms.

            This is all political bullshit.

        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:59PM (#28524043) Journal

          The Senators don't appear to be proposing a total ban on these companies, simply a ban on them bidding for government contracts. If you want to, you can still buy their products, but I don't see a problem with a government ban. I just wish it were more evenly applied so that companies selling such technology to any regime that is going to use it to violate essential liberties is blocked from bidding on government contracts.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by scubamage (727538)
            I think this is also because Nokia sold more than net limiting technology. Apparently they also sold devices which pick up the EMR's emitted by cell phones which allowed police to home in on any person who has a phone on their person - especially to those who are making calls/texting/transmitting data. To my knowledge such technology is not in use in China (currently).
            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:55AM (#28524393)

              That is bullshit [nokiasiemensnetworks.com] (forgive linking to a press release, but Nokia Siemens Networks doesn't even make equipment as described).

              It looks like Nokia Siemens sold exactly the things which the USA forced them to include in their system and nothing more. Most of the legal interception requirements have been driven by the US in the first place.

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward

              I think this is also because Nokia sold more than net limiting technology. Apparently they also sold devices which pick up the EMR's emitted by cell phones which allowed police to home in on any person who has a phone on their person - especially to those who are making calls/texting/transmitting data. To my knowledge such technology is not in use in China (currently).

              You are incorrect in your assumption about China. My employer sells exactly that sort of product to them.

              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Razalhague (1497249)

                [citation fucking needed]

                Seriously, an Anonymous Coward who doesn't even mention the company by name.

            • by afxgrin (208686)

              You don't need a device made by a major corporation to do that. All you need is a basic book on radio theory - easily purchased or pirated - you've got the know how for an EMR detector.

              I imagine, a simple mod to a cell phone would even work.

            • I think this is also because Nokia sold more than net limiting technology. Apparently they also sold devices which pick up the EMR's emitted by cell phones which allowed police to home in on any person who has a phone on their person - especially to those who are making calls/texting/transmitting data. To my knowledge such technology is not in use in China (currently).

              This is bog-standard technology implemented in any modern network. It's used by 911-operators to home in on your location if you are unable to speak (or cut off) and used by police to follow suspects (in addition to a GPS-Tracker in the car). There's nothing specialy made for repressive regimes; it's just technology which also may be used to suppress people.

          • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:24AM (#28525161) Homepage
            Hm... So we, in Europe, should BAN every single US company from bidding for any government contract because US companies indirectly supported the torture in Guantanamo?
            And by your logic, you should ban yourself :)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        China does not threaten to bomb israel or destabilize iraq.

        None of the politicians mentioned that this economic protectionism was religious based or had anything to do with nuclear warfare. Though China is a very dangerous military threat to India and is a police threat to its own citizens.

        And from the article:

        Nokia Siemens said in a statement that the equipment it provided to Telecommunications Co. of Iran, the country's fixed and mobile network operator, is designed only to conduct lawful intercept of traffic by law enforcement organizations.

        Unlike in America, where the government and the phone companies can monitor all traffic without legal requirements.

        This hypocrisy is just people being bad and lying out loud about it.

      • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:20AM (#28524145)

        China does not threaten to bomb israel or destabilize iraq.

        So basically, this is the US trying to force foreign companies into executing the US political agenda.

        Isreal in it's current form is criminal and cruel and the US did more to destabilize Iraq than Iran ever has. But of course those opinions are counter to the US world, so flag waving morons will refuse to accept them as valid.

        Some senators want to punish a couple of non US companies for selling technology to a country that the US prevents it's own from selling technology to? I hope that Nokia and Siemens ignore them. It looks like another case of US selective policing, and the rest of world is sick of that shit.

        I don't agree with Iranian goverment internet censorship, but not for knee jerk "they are the bad guys" reasons, because I know all to well from recent history that the USA are the badder guys. The USA has negative moral authority. Even with the new administration, you guys have a lot of work to do.

        I really hope Nokia and Siemens say "shove it".

        References to US and USA refer to government/politics, not necessarily you, the people.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mehtars (655511)
          The US isn't forcing the foreign competition to do anything. All its saying is if they want to continue to sell to Iran, the cannot sell to the US Gov't. That is all. They can, however, continue to even do business in the USA. Iran and North Korea are still the two biggest threats-- one is controlled by a crazed manic depressive dictator, and the other by a group of theocrats hell bent on creating a nuclear weapon.

          Additionally, I am not saying that it was right for the US to go into Iraq in the first pla
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            I would have to disagree with you regarding Israel. Israel is only acting in self determination after numerous incursions by Hamas, a group funded by Iran.

            Agreed. And Hamas is only acting in self determination after numerous incursions by Israel, which is funded by the US.

      • No, but they invaded Tibet and are in the proscess of cultural genocide.

    • by plover (150551) * on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:49PM (#28523971) Homepage Journal

      And Google and Bing and Yahoo! have all cooperated with China (and other chronic human rights abusers) by censoring their search results.

      I guess the U.S. government is just going to have to fall back to using Altavista [altavista.com] for a search engine. Don't forget their motto: "Over one million pages indexed!"

    • This is bull shit. Cisco sold the same type of stuff to China.

      Is it really such simple hypocrisy? I know that hypocrisy is the universal language of politicians, but weren't there were hearings on the matter of Cisco selling tools of oppression to China? I recall that documents were presented at the hearings showing that those tools weren't just marketed as simple tools but specifically as a means to help the government to oppress the people.

      Ah yes, just entering "cisco china hearings" net this as the top item:

      http://www.hunterstrat.com/news/microsoft-cisco-snub-con [hunterstrat.com]

      • I think it's worth asking: should a corporation be held responsible for the way its products are used? You could argue that the individual is the one who should be held responsible. An individual can pick up a scalpel and use it to perform a lifesaving surgery, or slit someone's throat. The individual can take that laptop and either write poetry or hate speech. Obviously you have to have limits; I don't think any reasonable person could hold a company that makes box cutters responsible for 9/11. They had a
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I think it's worth asking: should a corporation be held responsible for the way its products are used?

          Hell no! The minute they pass that, they'll use it to throw out the 2nd amendment somehow.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      Now, now, be gentle to them. It might be just ignorance, living in a bubble.

      They've learned about the properties of standard Nokia & Siemens telecommunications equipment from the news. They probably not even know what "Cisco" is, nevermind that it's a US company.

    • by CaptDeuce (84529)

      This is just more bullshit for the U.S. government to work around trade agreements they've signed in the past.

      What trade agreements? The US was given China temporary Most Favored Trade Status 1990 and made permanent in 2001 during the Bush Administration. Conversely, the US maintains trade sanctions against Iran and does not even have diplomatic relations with Iran and has not since 1980. So I ask again, what trade agreements?

      • by maglor_83 (856254)

        Nokia isn't Iranian, nor is it Chinese. They are a Finish company. I've no idea if the US has any trade agreements with Finland.

    • As much as I do not like what China does in terms of censorship and human rights, you really have no idea what you are talking about.

      China is a controlled export country.

      Iran is an embargoed country.

      Legally, there is a big difference between the two.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by number11 (129686)

        China is a controlled export country.

        Iran is an embargoed country.

        Legally, there is a big difference between the two.

        Legally, sure. It's simple to create laws to justify or prohibit anything. Legally, a torturer who works for the CIA is a upstanding patriotic citizen, while a torturer who works for Al Quaida is a terrorist and should be killed. Legally, when China executes people to harvest organs, it's unfortunate, while when Germany killed people doing medical experiments on them, it was a crime agains

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433)
      What I want to know is who sold the equipment that enabled the illegal warrantless wiretaps and bar THEM from EVER receiving federal contracts, they are the true threat to the American way of life.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kensai7 (1005287)

      Is it a coincidence that we're talking about a European conglomerate? Would they dare to propose something similar if Cisco was found to be selling such stuff?

      I can sell you mustard ingredients to use it on your sausages. You shouldn't blame me if you gas your kids with it though....

  • by tinkerghost (944862) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:34PM (#28523857) Homepage

    Unless you're in Iran in which case it's the other way around. Or since neither of these companies are US based companies do we have to decide if the EU likes the US today before they can negotiate contracts?

  • by Dunbal (464142) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:34PM (#28523861)

    Internet monitoring equipment should only be allowed to be sold in "free" countries, like the US... er...

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:35PM (#28523869)

    Where's the blockage of federal contracts to AT&T for spying on American citizens? U.S. officials have a complete lack of self-awareness [salon.com] on issues like spying, detention & torture:

    "I have more than two hours of video footage showing Sheikh Issa's involvement in the torture of more than 25 people," wrote Texas-based lawyer Anthony Buzbee in a letter obtained by the Observer.

    The news of more torture videos involving Issa is another huge blow to the international image of the UAE . . . . The fresh revelations about Issa's actions will add further doubt to a pending nuclear energy deal between the UAE and the US. The deal, signed in the final days of George W Bush, is seen as vital for the UAE. It will see the US share nuclear energy expertise, fuel and technology in return for a promise to abide by non-proliferation agreements. But the deal needs to be recertified by the Obama administration and there is growing outrage in America over the tapes. Congressman James McGovern, a senior Democrat, has demanded that Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, investigate the matter and find out why US officials initially appeared to play down its significance.

  • by _merlin (160982) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:36PM (#28523873) Homepage Journal

    It's the same equipment they sell to the US, UK and others [nokiasiemensnetworks.com], and they're in compliance with UN and EU regulations. Why is it suddenly evil and deserving of punishment when another government decides to use it?

  • the hypocrisy boggles the mind

  • meanwhile (Score:2, Funny)

    by uepuejq (1095319)
    at&t has now recompounded with cingular to form voltron
  • Well.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by diewlasing (1126425)

    ...I'm glad to see Republicans standing up the tyranny of the increasingly repressive American Gov...wait....

    ---

    I guarantee you these are the same people who want to restrict freedom of information to protect the children here in the USA.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:52PM (#28523993)

    As far as I'm concerned, multinational corporations deserve this and have done so for a long time.

    They are crying foul that by selling the tools of oppression to one government, they jeopardize their chances to sell their wares to another.

    That's not hypocrisy on behalf of the governments. That's just politics.

    And they do have a choice to avoid this - by staying out of that market.

    No one forced them to sell systems to allow oppressive regimes to track and crack down on dissidents. They came up with that product all by themselves. And they most certainly would have been aware of what their product was going to be used for.

    If all they sold was phones and phone systems, they wouldn't be in this mess, so I really don't see a problem with the US Government deciding that if Nokia supports it's political enemies, that it shouldn't benefit from US government contracts.

    Corporate pariahs's deserve to be treated as such.

    I don't like what the US government is doing itself in the area of human rights abuse, but I have to admit that I support it on this matter.

    GrpA

    • by chill (34294) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:06AM (#28524077) Journal

      What about selling to non-oppressive regimes? These systems, and similar ones by Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Narus [wikipedia.org] and others are in widespread use throughout the U.S., Europe and the rest of the "free world".

      Been there, installed that.

      Hell, I know of one system that uses a MySQL database to store the warrant and tap info. The interface is an Apache module. The front end is rather ugly closed source GUI written in Israel which sends the info via an HTTPS POST.

      Narus' key products were based on Snort and Wireshark, just on custom super-computer class hardware.

      Gotta love FOSS. With all the hacking tools available for Linux/BSD, including source code, who needs custom code?

      • Doesn't the blade cut both ways? OpenSSH? OpenSSL? GnuPG/PGP?
        • by chill (34294)

          Not really. These tools are designed to ensure privacy and you'd be hard pressed to find a use for them to "suppress" a people.

          There are a lot of tools designed to test -- and break -- security. They have tons of valid uses. The idea that countries like Iran, Burma and China can't get their hands on the same tools the U.S. and Western nations use for "legitimate law enforcement" simply because Congress says "don't sell to the bad guys" is laughable. It assumes no nation in the world is going to resell t

      • There is no such thing as a non-oppressive regime. All political regimes are inherently oppressive by their very nature.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      Actually, they do have to provide this technology if they want to sell mobile phone network equipment at all. There's a mandatory "lawful intercept" capability that you have to implement if you want to get the gear licensed. That goes for US, UK and EU as well as "axis of evil" countries.

      • by GrpA (691294)

        Yes, and I'm well aware of this requirement, more than most people.

        However it's one thing to meet this requirement within the required laws of the host country and another thing entirely to provide and market software and devices that actively enhance human rights abuse through these laws.

        The latter might be something the "client" government desires, but that doesn't excuse the actions of the corporations who chase this business through provision of such systems.

        If Nokia and others persist in creating Braz [wikipedia.org]

  • Oh I see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:20AM (#28524139)

    Speaking up in favor of protestors is seen as meddling but sending out a strong signal that if you sell anything hi tech to Iran your stuff will be shunned by the U.S. will have no impact whatsoever.

    The horse may have left the barn, but if we nuke the barn from orbit we can be sure no future horses will even be born. Or something like that.

  • Godwin's Law (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:21AM (#28524151)

    IBM, allegedly, collaborated with the Nazis.

    Corporations making a quick buck through trading with 'the enemy' is nothing new.

  • by lsdi (1585395)
    Those actions turn the US into a less competitive country and will not stop people from having cell phones, software, etc wherever they live. I don't think Nokia cares very much about federal contracts right now.
  • and in Germany? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:31AM (#28524235) Homepage Journal

    So, now that we here in Germany have introduced Internet censorship (via the crazy Zensursula von der Leyen law, your choice whether "crazy" applies to the law or the person) - will the US senators punish the companies that supply the infrastructure for that as well?

    Oh wait, Germany isn't a "rogue country", right? We don't go by facts, we go by political climate, don't we?

    I'm looking forward to an embargo...

  • by Toonol (1057698)
    It wouldn't hurt my feelings to punish companies that sell products that are specifically designed to oppress nations, but we also need to punish American companies that do that. Including censoring information, and disclosing information to help those regimes violate rights.
  • America needs to decide a)Iran is a horrible regime and should be treated as such, which included cutting off any business or country that profits by selling to it, or b) leave them alone. This is all wishy-washy jerking off after the fact. None of this tech is classified or sensitive, so you can't say they were selling them weapons grade material or something. You can't punish a corporation after the fact when the did not break a single international law. These spineless half measures reek of hypocrisy
  • by fluch (126140) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:51AM (#28524373)

    As far as I have heard Nokia and Siemens did just sell the same technology they are forced by the "good countries" to implement already for years. So what is the problem?!

  • Heaven forbid (Score:5, Informative)

    by kalpaha (667921) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:26AM (#28524589)
    How dare they sell equipment to implement legally required (and specified by ETSI and 3GPP standards) capabilies for the mobile networks: http://www.nokiasiemensnetworks.com/global/Press/Press+releases/news-archive/Provision+of+Lawful+Intercept+capability+in+Iran.htm [nokiasiemensnetworks.com]
  • what about the scores of US companies that have sold and are selling weapons to Iran, to other hostile, dictatorial and oppressive regimes and to third world counties. WTF! In my book that is much worse than what Siemens and Nokia did. Oh, but these are not US companies.... so that makes it alright then. Hypocrits.

     

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:08AM (#28525083)

    Matt 7:3

    For those not wanting to bother, it's the part about beams in your eye and splinters in that of another one.

    Hey, I just want to give them something they can understand, considering how many politicians ride on God and his will into the house, I'd say they should know the good book, eh?

    OK, snideness aside. Do you think this is about "freedom of speech" or similar bullcrap? It's about power. It's the attempt to dictate to foreign companies what they may or may not sell. Neither Siemens nor Nokia is a US company. It's simply an attempt to find out whether those companies rely heavily enough on US government contracts to actually bend over to US government's will.

    And that's the shameful part. IF it was about free speech, I'd be very happy for such a bold and outright good move. Similar actions taken in the US lead me to the conclusion that this is not the case. Else, why care for the splinter in someone else's eye?

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