Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Encryption Communications Government United States IT

US Gov't Assisted Iranian Gov't Mobile Wiretaps 161

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-for-the-goose dept.
bdsesq sent in a story on Ars Technica highlighting how the US government's drive for security back doors has enabled the Iranian government to spy on its citizens. "For instance, TKTK was lambasted last year for selling telecom equipment to Iran that included the ability to wiretap mobile phones at will. Lost in that uproar was the fact that sophisticated wiretapping capabilities became standard issue for technology thanks to the US government's CALEA rules that require all phone systems, and now broadband systems, to include these capabilities."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Gov't Assisted Iranian Gov't Mobile Wiretaps

Comments Filter:
  • This. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:31PM (#33727904) Journal

    This is the biggest reason why we fight against greater wiretap rules in the U.S. It's not that we don't trust our government, but rather that we can't trust all governments, and we're talking about world standards here. If we allow the U.S. government to put in rules that allow it to spy on Iranian citizens, due to the nature of the technology, we're also allowing Iran's government to spy on U.S. citizens. No matter how you look at it, it's pretty hard to argue that this is a good thing.

  • Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:33PM (#33727926)
    America, eventually everything is our fault. What's next? Are we going to get blamed for fast food? The Olsen twins? NBC 'Must See' TV?
  • Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:34PM (#33727932)

    Can you believe that the story features alarming reactions to Iran being able to spy on its citizens, without worrying that the US is doing the same thing. There is an implication with this /. post that the technology wasn't dangerous until it fell into Iran's hands. The US isn't guilty of enabling Iran. The US is guilty of intrusive policy.

    -d

  • Re:This. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:35PM (#33727944)

    It's not that we don't trust our government

    You would be wrong.

  • Re:Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:37PM (#33727976)

    The US isn't guilty of enabling Iran. The US is guilty of intrusive policy.

    No, it's actually guilty of both. Iran wouldn't have this capability without the intrusive policy pushed by the government.

  • Re:This. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:38PM (#33727984)

    "It's not that we don't trust our government"

    That's wrong. I don't trust any government with that kind of power. It will be abused, and I'll do everything in my power (what little I have) to prevent them from getting such a power.

  • Re:Double Standard (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:39PM (#33727996)

    This is by far the FUNNIEST article to be posted on here for precisely that reason.

    I can't wait to read the posts decrying the Iranian government and espousing Islamaphobia (very popular now, just like anti-Semitism a few decades ago).

  • Re:This. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymusing (1450747) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:41PM (#33728026)

    This is the biggest reason why we fight against greater wiretap rules in the U.S.

    Ummm... no. The biggest reason we fight wiretaps is because they are wrong.

    Letting the tech get into the hands of other governments is a far, far secondary reason. Maybe tertiary...quaternary... hexadenary... it's way down the list, anyway.

  • by linumax (910946) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:41PM (#33728030)

    I'm Iranian and I'm very pissed off about the regime abusing the the technology, however, I can't put all the blame on the US government. A lot of the tracking/wiretapping tech (well, virtually any technology) have dual uses. For example, if a family member of mine gets kidnapped I'd like the police to be able to locate him/her easily by tracking a cellphone. Or if a bunch of suspects are doing something against the law and there's justified need to tap their phones and/or internet I'd like the police to be able to obtain a warrant and have access to the technology to do their job. So it's not funding the development of technology or requiring it's inclusion in the products that is the problem.

    Now, if the US had the ability to prevent the regime from accessing the tech and they didn't do anything about it, well, that's not really nice.

  • Re:Wait, what ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:45PM (#33728092) Homepage

    It's not misleading; it's the headline's purpose to get straight to the author's point, and the point is that the unintended consequence of our domestic policies has been to enable authoritarian regimes to enforce policies of their own.

  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @04:53PM (#33728204)

    The fault lies squarely with the manufacturers of the equipment.

    The fault lies with the people who were forced by the US government to put backdoors into their products so that the government can spy on people? lolwut?

  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:04PM (#33728348)

    What's next? Are we going to get blamed for fast food? The Olsen twins? NBC 'Must See' TV?

    I don't know about being blamed for everything, the USA can be blamed for quite a few nasty things, you don't get to be a superpower without doing nasty things, it comes with the territory and so does being blamed for it. As for the rest of your comment: yes, yes and yes.

  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:06PM (#33728356)

    A very interesting story. I wasn't aware of this CALEA law until I just read about it in a previous story in Slashdot, and it's very disturbing that the increasingly tyrannical rule (albeit a mostly soft tyranny for the time being) of the US Federal government and it's concomitant level of imperial arrogance has supposedly endowed an even more evil regime to further terrorize the world. If the US made Ahmadinejad's (YM"SH) life easier, government officials should be prosecuted and punished under the anti-treason provisions of the Constitution, but then again that can be said about many aspects of the US's ruling elite.

    We must strenuously oppose any more encroachments on liberty and privacy, including the latest attempts by the Barack Hussein Obama regime to mandate backdoors in nearly all communication devices. This is a far more severe threat to our lives than ACTA. I can live without secular entertainment, but I don't want to live in a perpetual police state. We have to be mindful of the possibility that multi-national tyrannical forces are coordinating their efforts to bring a form of superlative form of international fascism (think 1984) in which all of humanity is shackled and enslaved.

    Call me an alarmist if you wish - I am very alarmed.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:06PM (#33728360)

    Not at all. For that line of argument to have merit you'll first have to prove countries such as Iran, North Korea, China, almost endless list, etc., have neither the inclination or clout to establish demand for such features in the first place. Without a doubt, they absolutely do.

    No matter how you look at it, this is not an US government problem. Even if the US government did not have such a mandate, I'm 100% certain there is enough interest from other governments around the world to justify such features on an up-charge and/or customization basis.

    As I said, the fault squarely rests with the manufacturers. Demand for such features will always exist, ignoring the US' mandate in this regard.

    Using this backward logic, assuming you drive a vehicle, are personally responsible for every vehicle related death in the world because you established demand for vehicles. After all, none of those vehicle related deaths would have occurred if it were not for your demand creating the market in the first place. Ultimately it boils down to manufacturers meeting demand for a product; be it vehicles and associated deaths or telcom equipment with wiretap facilities.

    So long as manufacturers are willing to meet market demand, without any consideration of implications, its all but impossible Iran wouldn't have this capability regardless.

  • by Caerdwyn (829058) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:11PM (#33728412) Journal

    Here on Slashdot there tends to exist the mindset of "blame the shooter not the gun" and the corollary "and certainly don't blame the maker of the gun". For most civil libertarians, those are axioms: that tools are value-neutral, and you criminalize their improper use, not their mere existence or the act of manufacture. Good so far. Lifetime NRA member here. Gun-totin' agnostic clinging to the Constitution.

    In this case, though, we are blaming the tool AND the user AND the manufacturer. Why is it different to blame tools collectively (governmental) compared to individually? I have my own thoughts on this, and I believe it IS different. However, it takes a couple of layers of abstraction to reach that difference (specifically, that collective actions are almost always restrictive in nature while individual actions are almost always permissive in nature, and that freedom requires that permissiveness wins over restriction in all but the most severe cases).

    I'd like to believe that the reactions against the existence of CALEA are reasoned rather than reactive. When you ask someone whether they favor or oppose something, if the answer you get is a frothing hind-brain reaction, that person's opinion is instantly valueless. And if that person was on the "correct" side (strictly by chance, it would seem), it becomes that much easier to dismiss ALL people with that opinion. "Yeah, you're a jingoistic , just like all the rest. I'm not even going to listen to you."

    The good guys have to be the adults.

  • Re:Wait, what ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:16PM (#33728488) Homepage Journal

    It's not misleading; it's the headline's purpose to get straight to the author's point, and the point is that the unintended consequence of our domestic policies has been to enable authoritarian regimes to enforce policies of their own.

    To further refine your point: At the core of this lies the implication that, because of such policies, there is very little to separate us from authoritarian regimes. It's a quantum distance, to be sure, in the sense that although it's very small it would require something fundamental to change. But the distance between where we are today and a digital version of the Alien and Sedition Acts [wikipedia.org] is short enough to make many people uncomfortable.

    One point that irks me, though, is the contention that we're only now seeing this link. That, frankly, is bullshit.

    The head of GCHQ (Britain's SigInt agency) under Tony Blair wrote an entire book [amazon.co.uk] on the topic last year. I myself wrote a series [imagicity.com] of three [imagicity.com] columns [imagicity.com] on the topic, all of them dealing with the diminishing gap between authoritarian policies and those of more democratic nations. Forgive me while I quote at some length...

    Nokia-Siemens, defending its role in the creation of a centralised mobile telecommunications network, stated recently [nokiasiemensnetworks.com] that:

    In most countries around the world, including all EU member states and the U.S., telecommunications networks are legally required to have the capability for Lawful Intercept and this is also the case in Iran. Lawful Intercept is specified in standards defined by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project).

    Yes, decentralised communications come at a cost. They make surveillance efforts of all kinds more difficult. The two competing questions we need to ask ourselves are:

    1. How far are we willing to compromise ourselves in the pursuit of state security?
    2. How much are we willing to compromise state surveillance capability in order to protect our own freedom to communicate?

    These are knotty issues with complex and often subtle ramifications on society. They demand a level of public engagement on the principle - and more importantly, the practice - of free speech that we haven't seen since the Red Scare of the 1950s.

    Technology feels like magic to most of us. We don't - and don't want to - to know how our communications come about. We just want them to happen.

    But in order for them to happen, we must inform - and arm - ourselves with the knowledge, understanding, law and policies that make it possible. Facile observations like Manjoo's do little if anything to support such an effort.

    The Revolution will indeed be digitised, but only if we want it enough.

  • Re:This. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:20PM (#33728506) Homepage

    Ummm... no. The biggest reason we fight wiretaps is because they are wrong.

    I, sir, see your "ummm...no" and raise you another "ummm...no".

    Wiretaps, used with proper judicial oversight, for legitimate law-enforcement purposes, are not wrong. If a wiretap provides the proof that a violent criminal actually committed the crime for which they are being charged, then that is a good thing. The problem exists when a government -- any government -- uses wiretaps for illegitimate purposes. For example, to spy on the population in general (for example, the NSA wiretapping), to maintain a party in power against the populace's wishes (Iran), or without receiving the proper warrants to listen in on private conversations (NSL's).

    While I think O.P. might be going a bit far to say, "It's not that we don't trust our government..." because I don't trust any government with unchecked power. However, you come off sounding like either a complete wacko or a naive 12-year old when you make a blanket statement like that. There is precious little in the world that's *THAT* black and white.

  • Re:Wait, what ? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dieth (951868) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:32PM (#33728618)
    I'd say it's one authoritarian regime, sharing with another authoritarian regime. No real difference, both governments are using it to illicitly spy on you.
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:35PM (#33728640)
    You've got it backwards. The US is prevented by law from using it's spying technologies to spy on it's own citizens. However, it is perfectly legal to use it to spy on British citizens, while the British government uses similar technology to spy on American citizens, and then they just trade information. Voila -- perfectly legal!
  • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:56PM (#33728824)

    If there exists at least one direct chain of causes-and-effects, regardless of how long that chain is,

    Read my other replies. Blaming the US Government is completely arbitrary. Do you seriously believe every other government in the world has wiretap facilities ONLY because of the US's mandate? Nothing could be father from the truth or more silly would you state it plain and simply. But, that's what the article and others would have us believe.

    I'll happily agree the US' guilt is greater than zero, but its still so small, its not worth discussion in the least. To then create an article whereby guilt is 100%, is stupidity.

    Again, as I said in my other example, using your logic, you share in guilt in every vehicle death and/or injury, assuming you drive and/or own a vehicle. You ever play baseball? You share in the guilt of everyone beaten and/or killed by a bat.

    At the end of the day, we all like to blame the government for all the bad in the world, but in reality, the government is us. We really do share some of the blame. But to suggest its us and them is ignorant and abhorrent to reality.

  • Re:Double Standard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @05:58PM (#33728842)

    correction: its not 'the US' its ANY powerful country that has the will and means to 'monitor' its citizens.

    any country. name one (seriously) that you think is above this.

    I really can't name a single tech-aware country that has not tried or succeeded in tapping its general population to whatever extent it feels necessary.

    this is not a bush thing or obama thing. its a HUMAN NATURE thing and has always been this way. the only thing new is that we have the tech means to easily invade each others' privacy. we ALWAYS were happy to do that (mankind) but now we can actually do it and get away with it.

    nothing american about this. human.

  • Re:This. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rakishi (759894) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @06:42PM (#33729164)

    if the 'bad guy' can't be caught using above-board means, maybe you need to try harder?

    So you want to live in a society run by organized crime and corrupt corporations? How do you prove bribery without wiretaps or other similar methods? You allow a power vacuum and someone will fill it in, the government is usually the lesser of many evils.

  • Re:This. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:24PM (#33729520) Homepage
    Let's take your "whole picture" one step farther, then. Is surveillance (i.e., tailing you, watching you from a stake-out) okay? What happens if a cop just happens to be there when you commit a crime?

    Let's go another direction. You say wiretapping is unethical. Is it unethical to kill someone? Then, what about having armed police officers? In the U.S., your average cop is armed. As another /.'er in the U.K. (IIRC) pointed out the other day, in other parts of the world, only the S.W.A.T./C.E.R.T./whatever-it-was-he-called-them units are armed. In either case, there is a branch of LEOs that is equipped and authorized to use deadly force. Do you propose to disarm the police forces? Okay, what about the military? Or are you arguing that wiretaps are evil, but deadly force is okay?

    "The end justifies the means" is an argument for doing something unethical for the "Greater Good." Your argument presupposes that wiretaps are unethical. I disagree. Rather, I think it is a compromise that recognizes the fact that there are grey areas. That compromise is necessary because the alternative is anarchy. And if you think that's a viable option ("heh, heh...no one tellin' *me* what to do!"), you might want to look at what's been happening in places like Uganda [invisiblechildren.com] for the last thirty years.
  • Re:Wait, what ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sodul (833177) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @07:57PM (#33729752) Homepage

    You forgot about the illegal wiretaps [nytimes.com] already ?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday September 28, 2010 @11:19PM (#33730690) Homepage Journal
    relevance ? 'best' means the top place in a group. and in the group of 250 or so countries (or whatever) on earth, america doesnt have that title. but it is touted.

    if you think everywhere else you'd 'even' consider has more tradeoffs than you'd like, it means you either dont know shit about countries other than your own, or a zealot, brainwashed rightwinger that has been conditioned to hate various things, so that you wont wake up.
  • Re:This. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:08AM (#33731394) Journal
    The Gov can watch me in my house if they want.

    BUT ONLY as long as I also get to watch and record whoever in Government I want and at anytime I want - that includes top political leaders, and other big shots in the government, police force etc.

    If they can legally record me in public, then I should legally be able to record them in public.
    If they can legally record me in private, then I should legally be able to do so too.

    Golden rule and all that.

    If they think it's wrong or unsafe for me to watch them like that, then it is wrong and unsafe for them to watch me like that.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. -- Niels Bohr

Working...