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Senators Want To Punish Nokia, Siemens Over Iran 392

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 McGiraf ( 196030 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:33PM (#28523843)

    yet here the use DPI for a lot of stuff

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • by MeatBag PussRocket ( 1475317 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:41PM (#28523897)

    the hypocrisy boggles the mind

  • by mehtars ( 655511 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:47PM (#28523949)
    China does not threaten to bomb israel or destabilize iraq.
  • 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!"

  • 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.


  • 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.
  • by malkir ( 1031750 ) on Monday June 29, 2009 @11:59PM (#28524041)

    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 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:Godwin's Law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cenc ( 1310167 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:56AM (#28524405) Homepage

    Yea, so did George Bush's grandfather:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar [guardian.co.uk]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:58AM (#28524417)

    If it weren't for CALEA: http://www.fcc.gov/calea/. Nokia/Siemens might have said "no, it's to costly to implement something like this so you can take it or leave it." Instead the system was already in place, tested, and working and sat right on top of their existing offerings as dictated BY YOU.

            I'm certainly not condoning companies from doing business of this sort *coughCiscocough*, but the hypocrisy makes me sick. Why don't go after other counties that do something similar to what Iran is doing and go after the companies that built those networks. Oh wait, because that's EVERYBODY.

            These guys are such douchebags and don't even understand the consequences of their actions could be. The fact is that sure, Iran could have been sold this equipment without the filtering or logging, but would they have bought it knowing they had 0 control over it? Doubtful. Because there's 1 fact about the internet that held true time and time again, as long as the wire isn't cut you cannot stop it. By having companies like Cisco or Nokia/Siemens doing the installs, the free world automatically gets a leg up on the situation because we know exactly how they work and can help those that want a free voice get around it. The engineers that even built the systems are on our side, they know what's going on and while they do not condone it, the end game is that if people are given the ability, they will find a way.

            The alternative is these countries doing a few things. First no internet, nobody would have access. Not even filtered access. This doesn't help anyone. They would become completely and totally cut off from everybody except for whatever their state "media" spews out. Or the other possibility is that they would have had their own in house guys do it. If it were something that they absolutely needed, and they needed to have total control over it, they would have had their own engineers design the equipment and software to implement their cell/internet network. This would have a couple issues, firstly being they could break it for the rest of us, see the Pakistan/Youtube incident. Another issue that would exist, is that their engineers would have likely seen the issues with the current implementation and improved upon it by providing a far more intrusive filtering/logging that would ultimately cause the deaths of many many more people.

            I do not like it anymore than the rest of you, but the fact is, is that as long as there exist a means in which one can voice their own opinion freely they will find a way. What we saw from Iran is the people finding that way. Had Iran not had the means, it wouldn't have happened at all. It's like the Tiananmen/Google thing that comes up every so often. Does it make Google evil to filter it? Maybe. But the alternative is not having Google in China. You know what you can find on Google in China? A way to bypass the Great Firewall.

  • by MrNaz ( 730548 ) * on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:07AM (#28524473) Homepage

    Off topic? More like insightful.

    Senators want to punish Iran for placing fetters on freedom of speech and democracy? First do something about the NSA running around like the Stasi, the FBI running around like the Gestapo and the TSA from running around like nosy nannies with clubs. Then sort out the "Free Speech Zone" debacle. Then sort out the PATRIOT Act. Then sort out the US government's working on ACTA treaties that are secret.

    Maybe then they can get all high-horsey about freedom in other parts of the world. Until then, calling Iran "unfree" is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:08AM (#28524491)
    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.
  • by Kensai7 ( 1005287 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:32AM (#28524631)

    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 number11 ( 129686 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @01:55AM (#28524729)

    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 against humanity. Legally, when American soldiers murdered 504 civilians at My Lai, it was... well, it really wasn't anything since only one served any time at all (4 1/2 months) for the deed.

    Morally, there is no difference whatsoever. Well, the numbers are bigger in China, so the naive observer would think that was more serious.

  • by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:07AM (#28524797)

    That you say "War of Independance" was 5 nations attacking without provocation is scary. What planet in the Propaganda system is that from? Isreal's whole existence as a place for European Jews to go, even though they are not even descended from Isrealites, by force and against the will of any non Jews in the region is pretty serious provocation.

    The country was started by state sponsored terrorists. It is a democracy only as much as is necessary to maintain US support, and only really for the Jews in practicality. It consistently flouts international law, is continuing to build illegal settlements as a way of claiming land which none of the rest of the world recognises as Isreali. What's the latest position? That Hamas must accept Isreal as a Jewish state? I have nothing against Judasim, like I have nothing Islam, but you cannot critisize Iran for being a theology and defend Isreal.

    Isreal is perhaps the largest single failure of the international community since WWII. Allowing a religious extremist terrorist philosophy like zionism to succeed is always going to be a recepe for conflict.

    Isreal is the only nuclear power in the region and has shown time and again it has no respect for borders. More people die on Isreali roads than from rocket attacks, yet Isreal launches attrocities like "Operation Cast Lead".

    All the whining about the actions of the Nazis just looks so hyprocritical. More Russians died in gas chambers than Jews, but Isreal and supporters bang on about it as if the Jews were the only victims. Sure Isreal isn't rounding them up and gassing them, but I would pick life in a ghetto as Jew before the gas chambers over life in Gaza as a Palestinian. Oh, and why didn't the Gypsies get a homeland - oh yeah, they don't go around bombing people and hijacking mass transport...

    While my country recognizes Isreal, I personally don't and I wont acknowledge its right to exist until it shows a massive change in policy and behaviour, starting with full cooperation with international justice.

  • Re:Godwin's Law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:09AM (#28524799) Homepage

    Whoa, buddy. That's just ancestral indiscretion. It's not like GW Bush or his father helped start wars that conveniently profited themselves and their friends.

    Wait a second...

  • 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.

  • by Razalhague ( 1497249 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:25AM (#28524873) Homepage

    [citation fucking needed]

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

  • by someonehasmyname ( 465543 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:40AM (#28524943)
    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 shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @02:48AM (#28524995)

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

    That's the reason it won't work.

  • by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:16AM (#28525113) Journal

    I think what's annoying is just the stupid grandstanding. They are fine with the EXACT same usage in the US, as the gov't now can arbitrarily declare anybody an enemy combatant, arrest them, hold them indefinitely without charge, and even then transport them out of the country. It's not like congress was briefed on the NSA wiretapping and did something about it. And it's not like ALL internet traffic goes through the NSA's computers (now, whether they can actually do DPI on it all in realtime...).

    But, when the people we have hired to watch our police forces don't bother doing it (I mean really, the FBI doesn't know how many NSL's they have issued OR where all of them went to HAS to be willful incompetence after this many years), and we keep re-hiring them, it's really our problem. We know there's a problem, but not enough people are willing to get together to be able to fix it.

  • 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 :)
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @03:37AM (#28525241) Homepage Journal
    Good points, but we all know the real reason - it's to favour US manufacturers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @04:08AM (#28525395)

    But government is evil.

    Yeah right on man! Feudal warlords rule! Somalia is paradise. This government of the people by the people and for the people crap that those fucktard founding fathers came up with ... just pure evil.

  • There is a possibility that they might be a competitive supplier to a company that has offered financial support to a senator/s for a lucrative tender, and that this is a mechanism to remove them from being able to tender. Of course, I may be totally off the mark, but following the money, this does seem possible.
  • by EbeneezerSquid ( 1446685 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:06AM (#28526155)
    When was this posted, June 30 2004?
    Sounds like the Dem line back during the Bush/Kerry Campaign.
    Considering that Iraq is mostly peaceful now, and well on it's way to a stable democracy, with US troops transitioning to primarily training and support roles. (as dictated by the Status of Forces Agreement).
  • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) ( 618003 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:15AM (#28526209)

    We know there's a problem, but not enough people are willing to get together to be able to fix it.

    That's because it doesn't seem to affect their daily routines.

    The main issue is not always whether the current executive powers are trustworthy. It is about putting in place mechanisms that would allow future (would be) dictators to take tight control. Even failed attempts can have nasty effects.

    Yesterday I watched an interview [bbc.co.uk]with the former head of the British counter terrorism operations. They see the immediate threat, but not the side effects of eroding democratic liberties. Scary. Probably with all the best intentions. Very scary.

  • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) ( 618003 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:20AM (#28526239)

    The US has an embargo on Iran and Nokia Siemens broke it.

    Oh? I missed the news then. When did the US annexed Germany and Finland?

  • by EatHam ( 597465 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:33AM (#28526313)

    Until then, calling Iran "unfree" is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Yes, I remember when people went out to protest and were hacked to death by axes, wielded by the National Guard. It was horrible.

    I would say that it's more like someone going into an emergency room with a paper cut and whining about how someone who has just been raped, thrown out of a car at 55mph, run over, lit on fire, then hacked up with machetes is getting treated first.

  • by misexistentialist ( 1537887 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @07:52AM (#28526423)

    More Russians died in gas chambers than Jews, but Isreal and supporters bang on about it as if the Jews were the only victims. Sure Isreal isn't rounding them up and gassing them, but I would pick life in a ghetto as Jew before the gas chambers over life in Gaza as a Palestinian.

    The first statement isn't true, and I doubt you even mean the second. Russians had very high war casualties and many died in camps (including Jewish Russians), but they weren't tortured and executed by their own societies like animals. Palestinians are mistreated, but they aren't dropping dead in the streets from starvation and disease, and it is not yet considered socially acceptable to kill them at will.

  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil ( 769135 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:15AM (#28526551) Homepage

    Oh? I missed the news then. When did the US annexed Germany and Finland?
    They didn't that's why the action is hey we won't be buying your shit rather than, hey we're fining the fuck out of you. Really, this is such a non-story. During economic crisis, country uses fuzzy logic to exclude foreign manufacture over domestic one. Fire still hot, water still wet. Just wait for the appearance of the Blue Eagle [wikipedia.org] before you start getting too indignant.

  • by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @08:59AM (#28526909)

    Many in the USA subscribe to a theory of American exceptionalism. They do this consciously or unconsciously. The theory is pretty simple: when America does something, it's OK. This is in line with "If the President does it, then it's not illegal." So when Americans are waterboarded, it's torture and a war crime. When the same thing is done by Americans, it's part of the war on terror, and a policy issue that shouldn't be criminalized. Sure, the participants and those authorizing the harsh interrogation techniques (euphemism has risen to new heights these days) circumvented legal frameworks, but they're not criminals no matter what they did. We need to look forward, not backward.

  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @09:17AM (#28527131)

    If you don't stand against it openly, even if it is hypocritical to do so patriotically, then there's no reason for those within your own country to desist from their own actions.


    If you denounce it abroad, while not doing anything about it at home, then there's no reason for anyone to believe you're being sincere, and therefore you are actually saying it's a good thing.

  • 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.
  • by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @10:46AM (#28528319)

    Expected to follow? No...

    Treated differently depending on whether or not they do follow? Yes, that's pretty much the definition of "embargo".

    If the US were threatening to prosecute the company or its principals for daring to break the embargo, then you might have a point. That's a very different thing from saying "ok, if you won't honor our refusal to do business with Iran, then we also won't do business with you".

    You're basically saying that the US is somehow obligated to provide postiive support (in the form of business) to any given foreign-based company, even if that company does thigns against stated US interests. I don't think it's the US outlook that is broken in this instance.

  • by morcego ( 260031 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @11:15AM (#28528785)

    For once (and I'm not American), I find this response from the USA government very reasonable. They are not barring Nokia to do business with companies on the USA. They are not prosecuting them. They are just saying: "if you want to do business with ME, you have to play by my rules".

    Even if all the other points raised here are valid (things the USA do etc), the response itself is a different matter.

  • by tixxit ( 1107127 ) on Tuesday June 30, 2009 @12:03PM (#28529583)
    Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and though Iran is now using their filters to essentially stop all outward communication, I'm sure that was not the initial sell to Nokia. There are a number of countries that heavily filter Internet traffic that the US deals with (eg. China and Saudi Arabia). Even in the States, Australia and the UK, such measures have been proposed as an attempt to "protect the children." Now that the shit has hit the fan in Iran, its all of a sudden a super bad thing and "someone must pay!!!" It is entirely stupid to punish Nokia for something that it could not predict. Can we learn from this? Absolutely, but punishing Nokia doesn't do anything, it is simply the easy way out. The hard work would be talking it out with other countries and trying to set up international agreements barring sales of this type of software (I would hope, just in general, no exceptions...).

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