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Nokia Siemens Sued For Providing Monitoring Equipment To Iran 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the some-sales-aren't-worth-it dept.
Just over a year ago, we found out that Nokia Siemens provided internet monitoring equipment to Iran. Now, reader Tootech sends in news that the company is being sued by an Iranian journalist who was captured with the help of that equipment. From El Reg: "Isa Saharkhiz went into hiding following Iran's 2009 presidential elections, after publishing an article branding the Grand Ayatollah as a hypocrite who was primarily responsible for vote tallies widely regarded as being fraudulent. According to a complaint filed in federal court in Virginia, officials with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security in Iran tracked him down with the help of cellphone-monitoring devices and other eavesdropping gear provided by Nokia Siemens. 'Defendants knowingly and willingly delivered very capable and sophisticated equipment for unlawful intercepting, monitoring, and filtering of electronic communications ("Intelligence Solutions") to Iranian officials,' the complaint alleged. ... According to the document, Saharkhiz has been severely tortured since his arrest. He was held in solitary confinement for more than 80 days, and his ribs were broken in a struggle during his arrest. The complaint said it may be amended to add as many as 1,500 other political prisoners who are being held under similar circumstances. Additional defendants may also be added."
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Nokia Siemens Sued For Providing Monitoring Equipment To Iran

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  • Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:12AM (#33352418)

    'Defendants knowingly and willingly delivered very capable and sophisticated equipment for unlawful intercepting, monitoring, and filtering of electronic communications ("Intelligence Solutions") to Iranian officials,' the complaint alleged.

    Not to diminish in any way what this journalist has been through...unlawful where exactly? Iran or the US?

    Sounds a bit like suing Heckler and Koch because they sold a gun to the government that provided it to the cop that used it to shoot you when the situation didn't warrant it.

  • good for the goose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:12AM (#33352422)

    Until our governments and police forces stop using this invasive technology we can't expect others to do so.

  • Forum shopping? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:16AM (#33352446) Homepage
    Not that I'm defending Siemens and Nokia for providing spy equipment to a regime known to torture and kill its citizens for exercising political speech, but how exactly does a court in Virginia have jurisdiction over German and Swedish companies for civil damages allegedly sustained in Iran against an Iranian citizen?
  • Because they can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:20AM (#33352470) Homepage
    Well, the Iranian government is not going to respect an American court decision. So, they're just trying to get headlines by suing a merchant. Was that equipment under embargo? But wait, an American embargo on Iran is bad because it hurts the common people more than the government. But if there was no embargo then how was it illegal to sell the equipment? I suppose Siemens should have recognized the Iranian government as "evil" and refused to do any business with them on a purely voluntary basis. But then that's racism against Muslims! Can anyone help? I'm so confused.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.LISPcom minus language> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:34AM (#33352526) Journal

    I don't think the United States can "embargo" a Swedish company from selling things to another country. I am also not sure it's against the law in Iran for the government to intercept any kind of communication. Don't they pretty much have totalitarian rule over there? I thought the government could pretty much do whatever it wanted?

    I don't really understand this case. US Law does not apply in Iran, nor does it apply in Sweden (unless you're an American citizen, in which case you can be charged with breaking US law in another country).

    I think we need more details.

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @05:45AM (#33352598)

    I'm so confused.

    Relax, cool down. Nokia-Siemens sold them because every government asks them to [bbc.co.uk]; and providing what your customers want is good for business:

    "Western governments, including the UK, don't allow you to build networks without having this functionality."

  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel,hedblom&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:03AM (#33352686) Homepage Journal

    How many people are in US jails right now?
    What country in the world has the biggest surveillance program know to man?
    What country has been found spying on its own people?
    In percents, what country has the largest amount of people in jail?
    In what country has torture been declared perfectly legal?
    What countries has been involved in torture in conjunction with electronic surveillance?
    What country has sentenced people to death based on evesdropping?

    Also ask yourself these questions:

    Are americans much more probable to commit crimes than any other people, in the whole world?
    Is it possible some people currently in US jails are innocent?
    Is it totally impossible a part of these are in essence political prisoners?

  • They all do it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bre_dnd (686663) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:04AM (#33352688)
    Don't be naive. Every single telecommunications vendor has tapping capability built into their equipment. Every western government *mandates* that this functionality is built in. It is not the equipment manufacturer who is morally wrong here. If you think it's wrong in Iran, it's wrong in the US or Europe too.
  • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:14AM (#33352726)

    Well, the US has managed to do it to a Finnish company [www2.hs.fi], so there.

  • Re:Law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:15AM (#33352732)

    True, but the quoted text states that it was the electronic monitoring that was unlawful, not the act of exporting the equipment needed to do so.

    Nevertheless, since Iran bashing seems to be the latest trend I'd like to suggest a deal. The US bitches at Iran at for electronic surveillance, and the EU does it for the torture, and we both conveniently ignore our own little forays into these fields.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:19AM (#33352746)
    There's no difference. It's just that the CIA has better PR skills than its Iranian counterparts. Sooner or later, the Iranian government too will learn how to use phrases like "war is peace!", "for freedom!", etc.
  • Legal wranglings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by captain_dope_pants (842414) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:30AM (#33352782)
    At a rough guess some lawyers are going to make a load of money out of this. So regardless of the final outcome there will be some winners: That's the way it usually works.
  • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:33AM (#33352808)

    You are totally right: The LI (Lawful Intercept) interface is a required part of all relevant telecomms standards, i.e. you cannot manufacture/sell a GSM/3G/LTE setup which doesn't have that LI interface.

    Terje
    (Currently working on the architecture of a large national cell phone network.)

  • Re:Law? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @06:51AM (#33352864) Homepage

    Can I count on equal support if I stone your girlfriend/wife/daughter(s) to death ? (slowly of course)

    Hey at worst I'd be as bad as the current Iranians you're defending. I just wonder how far this defense of the indefensible goes. I wonder, if I were to kill you, and claim I'm doing it for my beliefs whether or not you'll push your own arbitrary moral values on me or not.

    This post is an attempt at using sarcasm to call you out on your support for, e.g. stoning gays, religious genocide, oppressive state religions and the like. And let's not pretend that it's anything else that you're supporting.

  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @07:06AM (#33352956) Journal
    All theoretical ethical stuff aside, it will be interesting to see if a case like this will go forward in a US court.

    US telcomms, whose NSA collaboration almost certainly exposed at least a few people to extralegal detention and torture, were specifically granted immunity for any collaboration that might have occurred.

    While I don't doubt that we'd like another chance to stick it to Iran, and emphasize their repressive-theocratic-hellhole characteristics, I can't imagine the US being too enthusiastic about a precedent that makes corporate collaboration with a surveillance state legally problematic....
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @07:18AM (#33353024)

    All completely irrelevant since in the US some americans call their president "a muslim that's going to destroy america" and they're never arrested which is going much further then this journalist did.

    In fact you are just being a hypocrite, if you had posted this from Iran about Iran then you'd be screwed over like the journalist so I don't see how you can draw any comparison between the two.

    All your post really attempts to do is distract people from actual censorship issues and the slashdot mods have bought into it hook, line and sinker.

  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:14AM (#33353362) Journal

    Considering we overthrew their democratically elected government in the 50s to put in the Shah as our puppet, one of the worst dictators we could dig up, just so our corporations could get better deals? Yeah I think we really don't have much moral high ground there at this point. Is Iran a brutal place? Yeah, no doubts there. But considering our idea of "democracy" is elect someone we approve of I really don't think we have much moral high ground left in that area at this point frankly.

    In case you don't know and would like to read up here [wikipedia.org] is a good starting point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:25AM (#33353456)

    AT&T (American company) provide monitoring equipment to the American government - get all manner of legal protection.
    Nokia (not American company) provide less sophisticated tech to Iranian government - get charged.

    Ummm... discrimination on the basis of nationality... isn't there a work for that... ummm... racism?

  • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:38AM (#33353554)
    Stop trotting out that old "wipe Israel off the map" nonsense. The actual quote was that he hoped for the regime of Israel to fall, a sentiment shared by many rational, sane folk across the world. When you use those untruths is just shows people that you haven't actually read anything on the subject, and that you are in fact just regurgitating what you heard on TV. The "kills and tortures its own citizens" and "trains terrorist organisations" equally applies to the US, too, just in case you missed that lovely part in US history.
  • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:44AM (#33353596)
    The fucked up thing is the first country in the Middle East that offered help to the US was Iran. Iran was absolutely shocked when Bush added them to his "Axis of Evil" in his State of the Union address in 2002, which Bush did simply because you can't have an axis of 2 countries (Iraq and North Korea) and not look like you're bullying them. Iran used to be a very moderate, western country. Women's rights, great economy, progressive thinking, socially moderate, etc. Most Iranians are the same as they were back then, only the powers that be are still reeling from having the democracy overthrown by meddling western powers (US & UK, as we know), which has resulted in this theocracy taking place as the perceived last-gasp of maintaining their autonomy. It's no wonder they are acting the way they are.
  • by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:49AM (#33353656)
    Incorrect The largest surveillance system in the world is ECHELON, run by the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. North Korean "work camps" are clearly not jails. The US has a massively disproportionate jail population, and no snide wordplay is going to change that. Lying doesn't make your position any stronger.
  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:50AM (#33353666) Homepage Journal

    One country can not be "better" than another.

    Sweden vs the Republic of the Congo. I think you can say one is better.

    Denmark vs Burma. Discuss.

  • Re:Law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maroberts (15852) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:54AM (#33353688) Homepage Journal

    The quoted text says it was the supply of the monitoring equipment. The actual monitoring took place in Iran and is presumably legal according to the laws of Iran.

    Only the supply of the equipment used to perform the monitoring can be unlawful outside Iran.

  • Re:Law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @08:56AM (#33353714) Homepage Journal

    Considering we overthrew their democratically elected government in the 50s to put in the Shah as our puppet, one of the worst dictators we could dig up, just so our corporations could get better deals? Yeah I think we really don't have much moral high ground there at this point.

    This is an interesting ethical issue. Does everything you've ever done preclude you from every having a moral position in the future? If I robbed a bank in my youth, does that mean I can never say that robbing a bank is a bad thing?

    I'm not inclined to attribute morality to corporate entities or nations, but I'm not sure I accept the argument "You did X, so you can never again hold position Y". Better to accept that nations, like corporations, are designed to do whatever they think is in their best interest at the time. It's what they do. Short of much greater global governance, it's going to stay that way.

  • Re:Law? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:02AM (#33353764)

    Its not even that. Our great grandparents made a bonehead mistake 60 years ago by overthrowing Iran.

    The US has some shitty policy and has for a long time, but we are not as much of theocratic, totalitarian, oppressive, surveilance state as Iran is.

    We need to do way better than we are, but on no measure can I say that Iran has any moral superiority.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:03AM (#33353780)
    Please don't call it "Lawful Intercept". That's a cheap, whitewashing euphemism dreamed up by toadies. Furthermore, it's deliberately inaccurate, since nothing about the technology itself does anything to guarantee that the use is "lawful". Call it "wiretapping". Or "spying". Or "narcing". But not "Lawful Intercept".
  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zedrick (764028) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:08AM (#33353844)
    If I robbed a bank in my youth, does that mean I can never say that robbing a bank is a bad thing?

    No, but you can't say it with any kind of moral authority if you keep robbing banks over and over again. Iran isn't the only example.
  • by dmesg0 (1342071) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @10:07AM (#33354628)
    "The regime of Israel" is called democracy. Your reply only shows how brainwashed "many rational, sane folk" are. And yes, I do know a lot about the subject, which unfortunately isn't true about you.
  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @10:31AM (#33354964) Homepage Journal

    Your third option was not an option, and it wasn't even considered.

    The sheer brutality of the Japanese overlords in Asia dictated that they be brought to their knees. Had the allies not done it at the time, it is quite likely that China and/or Korea would have done so soon after. Not to mention all the other offended parties throughout the Pacific and Asian theaters of war.

    Japan had some karma coming to them, one way or the other, from one set of powers or another. America was on the scene, with the power and the tools to get the job done, so we went ahead and did it.

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gknoy (899301) <(gknoy) (at) (anasazisystems.com)> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:18PM (#33357720)

    US vs North Korea

    North Korea has a Dear Leader loved by nearly the entire populace; many outsiders feel this must be due to brainwashing.
    US has a president hated by roughly half of our populace (and hated nearly rabidly by a smaller subset), and believed to be loved by roughly the other half. (Ignoring those who say "Meh, NotBush" and neither love nor hate him.)

    Given that in the US you can express disapproval of the president and his policies without getting "reeducated" or shot, I think it's clear that one country is better than the other. =D

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @01:21PM (#33357790) Homepage Journal

    Those are way too easy

    A hard one.

    US vs North Korea.

    Well, the people in one country are literally starving while it builds up militarily. They are not allowed to come and go as they please. They are not allowed to access the internet.

    Is it really that hard, Wyatt? Or is this more anti-US government tea party silliness?

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @03:08PM (#33359564) Journal

    Nooooo, I'm saying there is a reason everyone hates us over there and it is because since WWII the CIA and our other pot stirrers have been stirring up shit in that region forever. Hell just look at how politicians trip over themselves to kiss the Israeli booty and get seen at places like AIPAC, why? Because sadly there are many that believe our entire foreign policy in the region should be based on whether or not a guy that died 2000+ years ago will have a place to land his cloud or not.

    The simple fact is we haven't gone 5 years without a war since WWII, and we'd be a hell of a lot better off if we just left everyone else the hell alone. If the Iranians don't want their leadership? Let THEM handle it! It is NOT our job to be policeman to the world, it is NOT our job to decide which governments are allowed and which aren't. The world would be a better place if the US government would just STFU and leave everyone else alone.

  • Re:Law? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skjellifetti (561341) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @03:12PM (#33359648) Journal
    Methinks you are young, that you've never lived outside the US, and have a rather exaggerated view of our both our faults and the pace of historical change. Most of the things you list will eventually be corrected. Once upon a time we passed the Alien and Sedition Acts [wikipedia.org], and the Sedition Act of 1918 [wikipedia.org]. We put whole ethnic groups in detention camps 70 years ago and booted people out of their jobs in the 1950s for having had radical politics in their youth [wikipedia.org]. And if you think the blue laws are bad now, our ancestors were hanging witches and branding adulterers. Gadzooks, this country allowed slavery a bare 150 years ago. There will come a time when the Patriot Act is regarded as a historical embarrassment.

    Our system usually manages to right itself even if often slowly and sometimes at great cost. Iran's? No empirical evidence of that same tendency so far.

"It is easier to fight for principles than to live up to them." -- Alfred Adler

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