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US senators demand boycott of Iran 'snoop' firms

International telco standards? So what, say pols

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Two US senators are calling for a boycott of European firms they say are helping the Iranian government snoop on its citizens.

That will be Nokia Siemens Networks, we assume, which has already confessed it sold technology to Iran conforming to 3GPP and ETSI standards which require mobile networks have a lawful intercept capability. Mobile networks in the US, and everywhere else, are required to provide a way for police and others to listen to phone calls. The situation is not different in Iran.

Two Senators - Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Charles E Schumer are backing legislation which calls for the US government "to identify foreign companies that export sensitive technology to Iran. Those companies would not be allowed to apply for procurement contracts with the US government, or renew expiring ones, unless they first terminated those exports to Iran."

We're not sure why US firms are not also being identified.

Schumer said: "The Internet has proven to be one of the strongest weapons in the hands of the Iranian people seeking freedom and trying to chart a new destiny for their country. Companies that provide technology to the Iranian regime to control the Internet must be forced to pay a heavy price."

Nokia Siemens Networks has repeatedly said its equipment conforms to international standards which include the ability to listen to mobile and landline calls.

The company said it did not provide any kind of deep packet inspection or web censorship capability. Despite this the Senators refer to technology which can: "Jam Cell Phone Signals, Block Email and Twitter, Monitor Internet and Mobile Video."

The Senators do not even get the company names right - they refer to "Nokia and Siemens" - while it was Nokia Siemens Networks which provided mobile kit to Iran. NSN is an entirely separate firm.

The bumbling gets worse - the press release refers to 2,000 government contracts held by Siemens.

The two have also written to Hilary Clinton urging her to press the European Union to restrict sales of snooping technology to Iran.

In the UK Ian Lucas, minister of state at the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation said he was unable to say whether or not the UK exported equipment which could be used to spy on Iranian citizens. ®

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