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Chinese Firm Helps Iran Spy On Citizens 98

Posted by timothy
from the they're-like-the-bluecoat-of-china dept.
New submitter politkal excerpts from a report at Reuters: "A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show. The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran's landline telephone services and much of Iran's internet traffic is required to flow through its network. ... Human rights groups say they have documented numerous cases in which the Iranian government tracked down and arrested critics by monitoring their telephone calls or internet activities. Iran this month set up a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who said it would protect 'against internet evils,' according to Iranian state television."
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Chinese Firm Helps Iran Spy On Citizens

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  • Terrible! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:05AM (#39471953)
    That's terrible they're taking marketshare from Cisco, Bluecoat and gang!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:28AM (#39472025)
      A long time ago, during the time of the Shah, the U.S. government helped sell weapons to Iran.

      Then the U.S. government helped sell weapons to Iraq, to fight a war with Iran.

      Now the Chinese are encouraging hostile behavior against the welfare of Iran. Will China become the new money-for-destructiveness king?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:38AM (#39472063)

        Don't forget that USA still has the largest spying machines on earth, Echelon, Facebook and Google. Echelon is installed on major ISP's backbones and monitors the traffic of the whole world, while Google and Facebook collect as much information as possible about every human being on planet.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @03:14AM (#39472179)
        And before that the US and UK Gov helped overthrow Iran's government and install the Shah. I won't be surprised if most Iranians are still aware of that event in their history.

        The Chinese are just selling to whoever wants to buy from them. If the Iranian people don't want their current government that's a different issue. The Chinese never claimed to be the good guys, nor do they go around telling others how to run their countries.

        Not long ago the Palestinians democratically elected their government. The US Gov didn't like the election results and promptly said so in public.

        So to me the USA has little credibility whenever they talk about what government the Iranians (or others) should have, and what the Iranians actually want. The USA has been overthrowing democracies for a long time.
        • The Chinese never claimed to be the good guys

          Really? I could have swarn I heard something about the Chinese being the good guys on China Central Television last night. I think one of the key points of the Chinese position is that the government and party is responsible for all harmony, peace, flowers and puppies that exist on this planet.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            That's only to their own citizens - most politicians and leaders do that shit. You're just lucky they don't do similar things in your country.

            They don't come to my country and tell us they're great and we should things the way they like.
            • by mikael (484) on Monday March 26, 2012 @06:26AM (#39472647)

              You don't really notice that while you are in a country like the UK. But as soon as you move to a neighbouring country in Europe, you suddenly find that all the big issues (like "austerity measures", "the war on terror" are non-issues). Almost as if they were deliberately the state of siege.

            • by tnk1 (899206)

              That's only to their own citizens - most politicians and leaders do that shit. You're just lucky they don't do similar things in your country.

              They don't come to my country and tell us they're great and we should things the way they like.

              That is because if they did come to a Western country and say that crap, they'd be laughed out of the room. For good reason.

              China, as a country is doing better, but as socialist utopias go, it makes the robber barons of the Industrial Age look like rank amateurs.

              • by ultranova (717540)

                China, as a country is doing better, but as socialist utopias go, it makes the robber barons of the Industrial Age look like rank amateurs.

                But not to worry, our modern robber barons looting the entire world economy showed that we're still the unbeaten champions.

                • Funny, I've always thought of those Modern Robber Barons as an Economic Pleage of Locus.

                  I think Ireland, and Portugal use different words, none of them repeatable by SIRI.
        • by decora (1710862) on Monday March 26, 2012 @07:41AM (#39472835) Journal

          the uighurs, and a few other minor exceptions, yeah. the chinese communist party doesn't tell anyone what to do.

          some people will complain, especially americans, who keep brining up this old 'korean war' thing, where chinese troops were killing UN troops who were trying to drive out a horrible dictator who murdered hundreds of thousands of people. but hey. there are whiners in every bunch.

          • and the Korean war hasn't ended. It's just in a state of "Cease Fire", thus can be restarted with a very simple declaration by the United States w/o congressional approval as the declaration of war was issued by Congress and has never been revoked.

        • by El Torico (732160)
          So when the US does it, they are the epitome of evil and tyranny, but when China does it, they're just trying to make a living? Fuck you and your double standard.
        • by khallow (566160)

          The Chinese never claimed to be the good guys, nor do they go around telling others how to run their countries.

          So it's better to be a authoritarian government run by thugs, such as China, than a mildly hypocritical democracy like the US? I don't buy it.

          Not long ago the Palestinians democratically elected their government. The US Gov didn't like the election results and promptly said so in public.

          I didn't like the results either. And my dislike has long since been justified.

          So to me the USA has little credibility whenever they talk about what government the Iranians (or others) should have, and what the Iranians actually want. The USA has been overthrowing democracies for a long time.

          In the case of Iran's early government, the pre-Shah government was a thief. As I see it, if you don't want your democracy overthrown by other democracies, then respect the rule of law and don't steal other peoples' property.

          • by miletus (552448) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:07AM (#39473221)

            How dare the Iranian gov't of the 1950s try and nationalize the oil under their land that rightfully belonged to British Petroleum! Those evil people weren't respecting the rule of law, the same way Chinese people refused to respect the British right to sell them opium!

            Furthermore, we all know the great democracies of the USA and Britain never stole any land or resources from any other people (remember how the Cherokee left Georgia because they new the African slave volunteers needed a new home?), which of course grants them the right to intervene in other, inferior democracies.

            Thank god we have people like you to clarify our rights.

            • by khallow (566160)

              How dare the Iranian gov't of the 1950s try and nationalize the oil under their land that rightfully belonged to British Petroleum!

              I don't see that daring was a prerequisite. Stupidity sure, but not daring.

              Furthermore, we all know the great democracies of the USA and Britain never stole any land or resources from any other people (remember how the Cherokee left Georgia because they new the African slave volunteers needed a new home?), which of course grants them the right to intervene in other, inferior democracies.

              And the US survived attempts by other countries to meddle in its affairs. Some governments can take the heat and some buckle like a soggy noodle. It's worth noting that the current Iranian government isn't a delicate one like that long ago democracy.

              Thank god we have people like you to clarify our rights.

              Let me clarify a right for you. You get the right to consequences when you fuck with a bigger power's stuff.

          • Think about it, you've just commented on an AC's fully clothed reality defication.
          • In the case of Iran's early government, the pre-Shah government was a thief. As I see it, if you don't want your democracy overthrown by other democracies, then respect the rule of law and don't steal other peoples' property.

            The rule of law in any given country is defined what the legitimate government of the country enacts as a law. If you have a problem with that, you should stay away from those countries which have (or may get) laws that are not to your liking.

            Unless, of course, by "rule of law" you mean "rule of American law". In which case the rest of the world will rightly tell you to GTFO.

            • by khallow (566160)

              If you have a problem with that, you should stay away from those countries which have (or may get) laws that are not to your liking.

              Rest assured, I do.

              Unless, of course, by "rule of law" you mean "rule of American law". In which case the rest of the world will rightly tell you to GTFO.

              Don't worry. I'm not pushing a particular flavor of law here, but a bare minimum that every society should have. "Rule of law" means that all parts of society follow well-known rules. This is never perfectly observed and laws can be hypocritical. But the less an element of society follows laws, the more trouble it can cause for everyone else.

              An occasional viewpoint that one sees here is the idea that property is theft. Almost every morsel of land has been at times in the past acquired

              • Property is not theft, of course. But it is, at least on a scale that big, purely a construct of the state - you can only "own" an oil field in a sense that there is a title in your name, and the state pledges its protection of said title with the monopoly on violence that it has. To that extent, the state can refuse to recognize the right to own certain things, and many countries in particular refuse to recognize private property to things they consider to be inherently public property, profits from which

                • by khallow (566160)

                  The legitimate government of Iran has duly enacted laws that rescinded the recognition of private property on the oil fields.

                  Hence, why I called it theft. Rescinding ownership boils down to that.

                  It seems that you assume that there's some intrinsic, universal right to private property on anything and everything that applies everywhere, and which governments can only refuse to recognize (and then "suffer the consequences") - only then your logic makes any sense.

                  Well, obviously the right to own property doesn't exist in a literal sense, But governments do suffer consequences when they create public goods which aren't owned by anyone (or owned by "everyone" which amounts to the same thing). Tragedy of the commons is the usual problem. In the case of Iran, they also created a situation where it was more profitable to knock over the government than to continue to play ball.

      • we kept selling weapons to iran. it was called 'the iran contra affair'.

      • I think that if one were to review public documents, that one would find many transactions between the U.S. and Iran. After the fall of the Shaw.

        The one thing I find ironic is that the Iran Stuxnet Event has been claimed by no one. Who stands to gain from this?
  • oh crap... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mevets (322601) on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:05AM (#39471955)

    Now the NSA is going to outsource to China too. What is left for the domestic high tech industry?

    • by game kid (805301) on Monday March 26, 2012 @03:07AM (#39472161) Homepage

      Patent suits!

      • With manufacturing, supply chains, R&D, financing and soon management spreading more widely across the globe, patent accumulation will follow. Some newbies building a patent war chest will start with true innovations, but will quickly learn to game the US patent system with one-click nonsense and bury US companies. That may be the motivation for patent reform.
      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Patent suits!

        I don't know if you could patent suits. There's a lot of prior art. And besides, shouldn't it be the textile industry or something going for that patent?

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday March 26, 2012 @03:35AM (#39472221)

      Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Analog Devices, Xilinx, Altera, IBM, nVidia, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Ratheon, General Dynamics, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Apple.

      There's more, those are just the ones that readily come to mind. By extension this means every desktop processor, and nearly every computer processor period (Hitachi and ARM being the two exceptions), every FPGA, much of the world's small signal electronics (opamps, DACs, etc), one of three major airplane manufacturers, most of the world operating systems, and so on.

      Sorry, but I get a little sick of this snark of "The US has no industry!" In fact the US has a massive amount of industrial. It's industrial output is second only to China, and then only recently. More, in terms of high tech the US has it in spades. Take Intel as an example. Far and away the processor found in most computers in the world, desktop and server. US headquartered, and massive US production facilities (of their 10 fabs 7 are in the US including the newest, 1 is in Ireland, 1 is Israel, and 1 in China). The only company in the world with a working 22nm node process online right now (everyone else is 32nm node or 28nm half node). None of this meantions their other areas (networking, storage, satellite, etc). Ya, just slightly high tech, slightly huge.

      The US produces a LOT of things. If you don't know what the failing is yours, not the US's.

      • Intel, AMD, Texas Instruments, Motorola, Analog Devices, Xilinx, Altera, IBM, nVidia, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Ratheon, General Dynamics, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Apple.

        don't forget starbucks, wal-mart, target, kfc, pizza hut, and other wonderful american industrial behemoths that employ most of the workers in the economy.

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Actually, the US is still #1 in manufacturing. Which actually buttresses your point.

        Still, let's not be complacent, China definitely can take the #1 spot, but we shouldn't just give up yet. Sometimes, I wonder if loss of leadership is not due to lesser capacities or resources, but people convinced that today is not as good as the good old days.

    • What is left for the domestic high tech industry?

      Selling of its assets.

      Two recent examples:

      1. AT&T to sell off $100 billion in real estate? [investorvillage.com]

      2. AOL hires Evercore to sell patent portfolio [reuters.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now Chinese will spy on Iran as well

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Oh! ...so Iran is the country that spies on it's citizens.

    That does it.

    • Re:An outrage (Score:5, Informative)

      by wmac1 (2478314) on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:53AM (#39472121)

      Do we really care about Iranian citizens???

      US and Europe has put economic embargo on Iran which directly harms normal Iranian. 30 years of embargo on civil aviation, directly supporting Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_support_for_Iraq_during_the_Iran%E2%80%93Iraq_war) , and now embargo on Iranian banks and swift banking communications have all been affecting normal Iranian citizens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._sanctions_against_Iran).

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Do we care about Iranian citizens?

        I don't think anyone has a problem with them, in general. Problem is, you can't touch a repressive state like Iran without affecting its people.

        Sometimes, you have to let people live with the consequences of their actions. In this case, the Iranian people need to realize that this isn't happening to them because they are Iranian, it's happening to them because they have a bunch of jerks in charge of their government. Ultimately, those people allow the mullahs to stay in

  • Holy God.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:12AM (#39471977)

    how about a headline like: "Israeli firm hels USA to spy on citizens" or "American firm helps Sweden to spy on citizens".. this is happening everywhere. Google "lawful intercept".

    • by siddesu (698447)
      Well, the intercept is also lawful in Iran, the only difference is how much the general populace gets to influence the laws. You have to concede that in America the population still has a lot more influence over the legislature than in Iran no matter how rabidly anti-American you are.
      • Re:Holy God.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @03:24AM (#39472205)

        That's cute except its not true. You only THINK you have more influence in America but in reality you're just as fucked as them.

        What is/was your influence on SOPA? TSA? Patent laws? Weed? Death penalty? Stem cells? I see lots of talking and controversies with very little "deciding" and a lot of "here is what we have decided". Just because people didn't protest as much as they should about these issues doesn't mean its not worth protesting for.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'd say we had plenty effect on SOPA, seeing as it died.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Did the citizenry have an effect on this, or was it because Google and other large corps opposed it for their own economic well-being?

            • Either way, the citizenry had an effect. Not so much a direct effect on the legislature, but on Google and the other large corps. Without the support of the citizenry, Google and other large corps have no power (or money.. same thing, I guess). Regardless, the end result was the same.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Let's take these one by one:

          > SOPA?
          They did have an effect on this one, it's dead (at least for now). The reason there is usually no effect is because people don't know enough about the laws, and some of them are even created in secret.

          > TSA?
          What about the TSA? Nobody likes it, but I don't think anyone has a better idea.

          > Patent laws?

          Well again, the problem here is that the general population has no idea about these. The people who do are usually the ones who benefit from having them. People wh

          • > TSA?

            What about the TSA? Nobody likes it, but I don't think anyone has a better idea.

            I think most people have a better idea: Do away with it.

            It's a giant waste of money/time that offers only "security theater" in place of security.

        • by siddesu (698447)

          You are very shortsighted or outright stupid to equate a democratic system to a dictatorship based on what influence you suppose one individual has on the system. First, as I pointed out, a democracy is a system where the will of large groups matter. Second, as long as I as an individual am not censored, I have the opportunity to influence the system by convincing large groups of people to listen to my message. This mechanism works in the US without doubt - many oppressive laws were removed in the past beca

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:13AM (#39471983)

    It's a well known fact that Chinese produce low-quality knock-offs that can't stand the test of time (or your pesky and stubborn dissidents).

    I strongly suggest you procure top-quality American equipments - they let you go to eleven. Pay a little now and nail whole lot more pests in the long haul.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chrisq (894406)

      It's a well known fact that Chinese produce low-quality knock-offs that can't stand the test of time (or your pesky and stubborn dissidents).

      I strongly suggest you procure top-quality American equipments - they let you go to eleven. Pay a little now and nail whole lot more pests in the long haul.

      I'm afraid you're 15 years out of date. The boards in the "top-quality American equipment" probably have "made in China" stamped on them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    who gave ZTE the technology so that they could get market share of China? Cisco? GE? IBM? Microsoft? GM? Ford? The list goes on and on and on.
    • by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:36AM (#39472053) Homepage

      Six years ago, I saw a ZTE branded IPTV router at a hotel in Shanghai. Cheap build quality on the plastics used, but it at least powered on and worked. Par for the course in China. Last year, I saw that the cheapest cellphone Verizon sold was by ZTE.

      People buy cheap. It's how successfully companies generally start out by selling lower tiered products and eventually working their way up to high-end offerings. Watch for it! This company will be as huge as LG at their current rate.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Monday March 26, 2012 @02:33AM (#39472041)

    A XXX telecommunications equipment company has sold YYY's largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show.

    These days, it's surveillance systems, all the way down.

    Everywhere.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Supreme Council of Cyberspace...it would protect 'against internet evils...

    It's fun because it's so grand and futile :-D

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Monday March 26, 2012 @03:05AM (#39472157)
    In my mind I have an idea for someone's dystopian novel where a weak president comes into office of the USA. Then Iran finds a US citizen defaming something. Then the USA president extradites the citizen over. I guess it is bad enough they put a fatwa on a comedian. And police are fighting against peaceful protestors in the USA. Maybe I keep thinking of dystopian futures because it seems like things keep heading that way.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      With the Patriot Act, NDAA, warrantless spying etc - the US is in a dystopian present.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some bad things are going to happen in Iran in the next couple of years. The worst: Israel goes in and bombs the shit out of them and starts a regional war. Best: Persian Spring (or Summer, Fall, or Winter)

      The dystopian future I see is the US turning into a Christian Theocracy. And as what all religions do when they become political, they'll turn this country into an oppressive and backward shit hole.

      • Best: Persian Spring (or Summer, Fall, or Winter)

        Given that Arab Spring has, so far, been quite successful at removing moderately secular dictators and replacing them with moderately-to-extremely Islamist democracies, why do you think that a post-"Persian Spring" Iran will be any less hot-headed than the current theocracy? If anything, they might actually blame the mullahs for talking too much and not acting enough on it, and start openly intervening in nearby countries. Or, say, do a couple pogroms on the (remaining) Iranian Jews, which would prompt Isra

    • It's not just China (Score:4, Informative)

      by chrb (1083577) on Monday March 26, 2012 @05:50AM (#39472565)
      http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/11/04/1626247/iranian-police-tracking-dissidents-using-tech-from-western-companies [slashdot.org] Western companies have also sold domestic surveillance tech to Iran.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if the Iranians are as embarrassed by their government as we are in the US?

    • I'm sure they are sensible enough not to say so in public. Or in private, when someone might be listening in.
  • probably overrated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Max_W (812974) on Monday March 26, 2012 @04:18AM (#39472315)
    If governments can produce such powerful systems, as they claim, why cannot they do something as simple as stopping spam, which, by the way, really hurts economies.

    My guess is that these systems suffer from the usual contracts' weaknesses: kickbacks, wow-presentations, bugs, etc.
    • If governments can produce such powerful systems, as they claim, why cannot they do something as simple as stopping spam, which, by the way, really hurts economies. My guess is that these systems suffer from the usual contracts' weaknesses: kickbacks, wow-presentations, bugs, etc.

      It is almost certainly the case that the vendors are exaggerating at best, lying at worst; but there is one crucial difference:

      Anti-spam, for the vast majority of us, is purely defensive. Spammers send X million messages, I receive zero points for each one I block, -1 points for each one that gets through.
      Anti-dissident surveillance systems are both offensive and defensive, when considered as part of the system they work with: Parts are basically anti-spam(eg. China's "Something bad happened near Foo, s

    • by Nyder (754090)

      If governments can produce such powerful systems, as they claim, why cannot they do something as simple as stopping spam, which, by the way, really hurts economies.

      My guess is that these systems suffer from the usual contracts' weaknesses: kickbacks, wow-presentations, bugs, etc.

      How exactly does spam hurt the economies?

      First some history: Junk mail, you like it? you probably get a lot of it. I do. Funny thing about junk mail, is that it has a cost. yet that doesn't stop us from getting a ton of it. Spam? Doesn't cost very much to send, thus we get a shitload of it.

      Okay, back to today. That spam has made jobs for programmers and IT. yep, it gives people job security. Much like the paper junk mail gives printers, and paper makers and ink makers and the fracking post off

  • who said it would protect 'against internet evils,'

    Seriously, who talks like that? Internet 'evils'? Ohhhhh! I've noticed the rhetoric from Iran, North Korea and other reclusive countries consistently sounds like it was made up by some hammy Z-grade Hollywood writer, rather than written by someone who wants to be, you know, taken seriously by the world.

    • Not them. I doubt they wrote it in English, you're reading a translation. It's possible they used a more specific term, and 'evils' is just an approximation.
    • Have you listened to anything a state Attorney General with his eye on re-election(or better things) says about the internet when some 'cyber-bullying' case is in the media or somebody is shocked, shocked to discover that there may be prostitution on craigslist?

      Never mind, of course, the actual fundamentalist dingbats, not just the cynical politicians.
  • 3GPP standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I do not know about landlines, but regarding mobile, this technology is part of the 3GPP standard, and all operators in the free world have this equipment installed as well.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday March 26, 2012 @04:56AM (#39472417)
    Without this monitoring Iranian children could be reading all sorts of evil perverted stuff on the internet. The Bible, the United nations declaration of human rights, or even the Bhagavad Gita.
  • If I lived there... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    On the one hand I am all for human rights and all as the next guy, but what I don't understand is *why* would you use the phone or internet to criticize the government in a place where you know they are monitoring it, and doing so can get you thrown in jail?

    I mean I know lots of clueless Americans who think "China = Communist = Orwell = bad". Yes everyone is being watched by Chairman Mao 24 hours per day, and every right is being suppressed. Sure. On the other hand, I have actually been to China, and I k

  • Irony Alert ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by microphage (2429016) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:07AM (#39473223)
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 26, 2012 @09:13AM (#39473263)

    How else could they find, and execute (by painful suspension hanging) people for such crimes as: witchcraft, apostacy, homosexuality, blasphemy, and crimes against chastity?

    What could we expect from a country where woman are being stoned to death for adultury?

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