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Siemens, Nokia Helped Provide Iran's Censoring Tech 280

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-that's-not-very-nice dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Wall Street Journal has an article about Nokia and Siemens selling the censoring technology to Iran's government. Do you believe that the public relations damage to these companies can persuade them from selling this kind of technology to other dictatorial regimes?" I don't believe there will *be* any PR Damage, and that makes me a little sad.
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Siemens, Nokia Helped Provide Iran's Censoring Tech

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  • by Dr_Ken (1163339) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:02AM (#28420425) Journal
    I'm sure first and second world dictatorships all over the world will be looking at buying that technology.
    • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:04AM (#28420461)
      I'm sure that here in the UK the government is already enquiring on how they can do the same.
    • by EatHam (597465) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:05AM (#28421401)
      Not after seeing what a piss poor job it did at actually preventing information leakage.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by janeuner (815461)

        Isn't it to be expected that the world's largest provider of cellular phones is better at providing connectivity devices than censorship devices?? At some point, some executives decided that a communications device with degraded service is better than no communications device at all. When you consider the utility of a cellular device, then subtract the censorship laws, you still are better off than when you started. We should be praising Nokia in particular for working around the laws of Iran and providi

  • Not unless... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hyppy (74366) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:03AM (#28420445)
    There won't be any PR damage, unless people make a huge stink out of it.
    It's not like the world will wake up and think of them as "evil" unless they're told to think of them that way.
    This is a good time for another couple companies to step in and blast away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Threni (635302)

      All countries, as far as I'm aware, mandate some sort of monitoring and/or censorship from the communications companies which operate within them, whether it's US delivery companies, UK ISPs etc. Why single out Iran? Are you saying Nokia shouldn't operate in Iran; they should break the law there; what?

      • Why single out Iran? Are you saying Nokia shouldn't operate in Iran; they should break the law there; what?

        I'm guessing a lot of people reading this have the former in mind: information technology companies in the industrialized world shouldn't operate in countries that place restrictions on political speech to the extent seen in the countries on which the United States already has sanctions. In the 1980s, near the end of South Africa's counterpart to the U.S. "Jim Crow" era [wikipedia.org], there was an effort to boycott companies that did business in South Africa: disinvestment [wikipedia.org] was a result.

        • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:56AM (#28421241) Homepage Journal
          South Africa is a good example of the western world wielding sanctions (economic and otherwise) for good effect but I think it's worth considering the differences between Iran and South Africa.

          The South African ruling classes valued their place in the western world and it hurt them to lose that relationship. I'm not sure the same can be said of Iran, I think a large proportion of them would be quite happy to have the west as an enemy they can blame for their woes, there is no good relationship to be lost, only the ability to make everyday Iranians poorer.

          As far as Nokia and Siemens goes I think it's also worth thinking about how their technology is also empowering everyday Iranians. No doubt some of the footage and messages being passed around in recent days comes from Nokia/Siemens equipment. I'd bet their overall effect is a net benefit in terms of freedom so asking them to avoid selling anything to the country would be a mistake.

          Information technology will empower the Iranian people no matter how many barriers the Iranian government may hope to put up more and more stuff will leak through. I agree that we should pressure companies to stay clear of ethically dubious things the government there does but avoiding the country entirely would be a mistake.
  • by po134 (1324751) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:05AM (#28420469)
    These are capitalist corporations. Their goal is to make money. People are willing to buy censorship technology (just look at any government office). Why do you act shocked that this is happening?
    • by v1 (525388) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:07AM (#28420487) Homepage Journal

      agree. That, and if we were to have some sort of a committee to decide who could sell what to whom overseas, (beyond existing limits to say, military technology) we'd never be able to get anything sold overseas.

      Is it really up to the public to decide who I can do business with overseas? I think not.

      • agree. That, and if we were to have some sort of a committee to decide who could sell what to whom overseas, (beyond existing limits to say, military technology) we'd never be able to get anything sold overseas.

        Is it really up to the public to decide who I can do business with overseas? I think not.

        You damn well bet it's up to the public, if they so decide it is. Who exactly do you think grants corporate charters? Santa Claus?

        We, as the public, have a shameful record of actually expecting, much less enforcing, that corporations be expected to behave in an ethical and appropriate manner. However, we do have every right to demand it if we'd get off our asses and do it. We give them the charter, we grant the limited liability, and usually, we pay a substantial portion of that nine-digit bonus the CEO got last year too. Sometimes, many members of the public are even part owners of the company via stock purchase. So yes, the public has say over corporate behavior, in a much more general sense than just overseas conduct.

        Now only if we would start to use that on a regular basis. I can dream, can't I?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
          Yeah, it's a dream. In order to get the populace informed regarding what they are entitled to do, what their rights are, and what they should expect in return, you'll need to get hold of their attention, and that means a slot in the adverts of Britain's Got Talent, front page of The Sun, or get Jeremy Vine to argue counter-points with you.

          As all but the last have an interest in selling disinformation to the masses, or just irrelevant "news" I believe you're SOOL.

          Maybe if you can get Amy Winehouse to do so
        • by Tom (822)

          Now only if we would start to use that on a regular basis. I can dream, can't I?

          Acting would have a higher probability of changing something.

          Yes, originally corporations were servants of the public. Like many servants, they didn't like their role, so over the years and decades and sometimes even centuries, they plotted and schemed and used whatever means available to revert the roles.

          Simple as that, really.

      • by T Murphy (1054674)
        If it is all about money, and the public is a large supply of that cash flow, then yes the public can decide. The business in question might not appreciate it, but if enough people boycott a company for moral reasons the company has to seriously consider its actions as to whether they will take more damage than they benefit from some action. EA loosened their DRM for Spore after significant public outrage over the 3 install limit and other restrictions - sure it wasn't what most people were hoping for, but
    • FTA:

      Nokia Siemens Networks provided equipment to Iran last year under the internationally recognized concept of "lawful intercept," said Mr. Roome. That relates to intercepting data for the purposes of combating terrorism, child pornography, drug trafficking and other criminal activities carried out online, a capability that most if not all telecom companies have, he said.

      So look at it this way - the equipment was provided for purposes which, from a western perspective, are morally dubious at worst, and mo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:05AM (#28420475)

    ... Cisco... ... after finding out they collude with the Chinese government for censorship and spying.

    Look how much that's slowing them down!

  • Surprise surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Needless to say, Motorola manufactured chips used in land mines. IBM manufactured some nasty stuff for WWII. There will be no PR fallout from this. Nobody wants to know.

    • Re:Surprise surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pirhana (577758) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:19AM (#28420669)
      Iran, regardless of all the shortcomings and issues IS a democracy. Most of the other countries in gulf region(Like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) are under family dictatorships and worse tyrannies. And US/EU governments and corporations sell everything including weapons to them. I think this is far worse than selling technology to Iran.
      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@@@gmail...com> on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:31AM (#28420837)
        Precisely - this is just a case of 'who do we like today' verses 'who do we dislike today'. The western world was all for selling Iran complex military machines (F-14s with AIM-54 Phoenix missiles among other things) when the country was under the Shah dictatorship, to the extent that there was a huge panic when the Shah was deposed. Infact there still is a huge panic about those weapons, take a look at the extent the US went to to ensure the Iranian air force did not benefit from blackmarket spares stolen from museums when the US Navy retired their F-14s from active service.
      • When is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei up for reelection? Who ran against him in the last election?
      • by Starayo (989319)
        Isn't Iran a theocracy?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by srjh (1316705)

        Iraq was technically a democracy as well. It's just that Saddam happened to get 100% of the vote every time.

        "Democracy" isn't the first word to come to my head when describing Iran... the recent events have done nothing to suggest otherwise.

        • Re:Surprise surprise (Score:4, Informative)

          by pirhana (577758) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:58AM (#28421287)
          > Iraq was technically a democracy as well. It's just that Saddam happened to get 100% of the vote every time.

          Iran democracy is way better than Iraq(old) one. For e.g even now the candidates who are dead against president Nejad were allowed to contest. And as I said in previous post, other countries like Saudi have NO election at all ! They have even worse filtering of internet. I am typing this from Saudi where even some of google pages are blocked(like language tools). What is the point in selling everything to these countries and bitching against selling something to Iran ?

          > "Democracy" isn't the first word to come to my head when describing Iran... the recent events have done nothing to suggest otherwise.

          Thats because western media are showing a very biased story of the Iran issues. Were the western reporters and observers able to see any solid evidence of rigging the election ? I doubt. The reason Nejad won the election with such a huge margin is because of his popularity among rural mass. The so called "reformist's" influence is confined to Tehran and surrounding areas only.
          • Re:Surprise surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) on Monday June 22, 2009 @11:44AM (#28423191)

            Thats because western media are showing a very biased story of the Iran issues. Were the western reporters and observers able to see any solid evidence of rigging the election ? I doubt. The reason Nejad won the election with such a huge margin is because of his popularity among rural mass. The so called "reformist's" influence is confined to Tehran and surrounding areas only.

            Catch up to today's events. The Guardian Council has had to admit that in 50 cities there were more votes cast than people eligible to vote. Other sources say the figure may be as high as 120 cities and 110% of the total electorate.

            All to elect a puppet. Yes, a puppet. The power remains with the clerics, they decide who are acceptable candidates after making it quite clear what boundaries are acceptable for those seeking the position.

      • Re:Surprise surprise (Score:5, Informative)

        by linumax (910946) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:52AM (#28421175)

        Iran, regardless of all the shortcomings and issues IS a democracy

        Who are you kidding? One un-elected guy has godly powers. He can do anything he likes.
        Every "election" that happens, candidates are screened for loyalty to that unelected guy and Islam, if found not loyal enough, they are barred. And democracy is not just about elections. What is democracy without freedom of speech? freedom to peacefully protest? etc.

        I'm baffled by your idea of what constitutes a democracy. "It sucks less than Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, so it's a democracy!"

        Iran used to be a quasi-democracy, after the recent "election" (read coup) Khamenei gave a big fuck you to people and said we're not even going to bother counting votes anymore.

        • by pirhana (577758)
          > Every "election" that happens, candidates are screened for loyalty to that unelected guy and Islam, if found not loyal enough, they are barred. And democracy is not just about elections.

          Then how come candidates like Mousavi came to election and won the second place ?

          > Iran used to be a quasi-democracy, after the recent "election" (read coup) Khamenei gave a big fuck you to people and said we're not even going to bother counting votes anymore.

          Show me solid evidence like international observers findin
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by linumax (910946)

            Then how come candidates like Mousavi came to election and won the second place ?

            Mousavi was supposed to be the dummy candidate. He also accepts the concept of Supreme Leader, at the very least verbally. Should he have said otherwise he would have been barred too. Seems like you don't know anything about "election" process in Iran. There were initially hundreds of candidates, they were all barred. That is not a free election.

            Show me solid evidence like international observers findings for the "coup" in election . Then I would believe you. Because frankly speaking, I have not seen anything other than reports about "protests"

            International observers were barred from monitoring election, even candidates own monitors which by law should be present at every stage of voting and counting vo

        • by BerntB (584621)

          One un-elected guy has godly powers. He can do anything he likes.

          Totally wrong!

          It wasn't him, but another group of priests that decided which 4 (out 450++) presidential candidates that could run for election. (Four times better than old, undemocratic Soviet!)

          Besides, since all the cowardly real opposition left the country (to avoid being among the thousands shot), there probably wasn't anyone among those 450++ claiming Iran wasn't as close to Heaven-on-Earh as possible.

          Anyway, the Grand Parent is ob

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:28AM (#28421831)
        Iran is clearly no more a democracy than the Soviet Union. It requires more than holding an election to be considered a democracy, the outcome of the election has to actually reflect the way people voted. No one in any election anywhere wins every district across an ethnically (and otherwise) diverse population by the same margin, and yet that is what the Iranian government (which is actually the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council) is claiming happened in this last Presidential election.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027)

        "Iran, regardless of all the shortcomings and issues IS a democracy."

        By that definition, so was the USSR and China. I mean, they say they are a democracy, and votes are held, are they not?

        Of course, the fact that there is another set of people who get to pick and choose the candidates, have their own army and police forces, and are NOT elected is wholly irrelevant, isn't it?

    • Party Talk (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AB3A (192265) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:29AM (#28420793) Homepage Journal

      "...so, what do you do?"

      "I sell net censoring software."

      "Really? Who buys that stuff?"

      "Oh, lots of people. We have ISP customers from around the world."

      "What do they use it for?"

      "You know, censoring kiddie porn sites, blocking mail spammers, and so on." ...

      I think that's a pretty good description of what this is about. People are selling tools. The problem is how those tools are used. There are evil shit-heads all over the world. That does not mean the tools themselves are evil.

      • Re:Party Talk (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:41AM (#28422067)

        No.. Technologies are not value neutral. You can brush your teeth with a pistol, and you can kill someone with a toothbrush, but each is clearly better suited to the other task.

        Censorship technology presupposes that there's an authority that knows better than you what you should be allowed to see. This is the source of the problem, and designing technology to support it _is_ a problem.

  • More propaganda (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:07AM (#28420497)
    From TFA

    "It couldn't be determined whether the equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks is used specifically for deep packet inspection."

    So in other words a European venture sold a bunch of equipment to Iran for network usage and (also FTFA)

    If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them."

    It sounds like a beat up to me. What would the story be if a US company had sold the equipment to Iran? (yeah I know .. trade embargo etc) This story smells of sour grapes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      It sounds like a beat up to me.

      Alright! It's a good ole fashion Beatles burning! Everyone pour out into the streets with your wireless routers, modems and network cards. I'll bring the gasoline and matches! Remember not to inhale the smoke from the blue and green flames on that burning plastic. After that, we storm our local ISPs and demand all their networking gear for the same fate!

      Did you know that this hardware can also be used to transmit and receive kiddie porn? I'm shocked we didn't take action long ago, it should be co

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by R2.0 (532027)

      You are using those phrases out of context (although the second one is BS). The equipment they sold them is for deep packet inspection - is there any *good* use for that equipment?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      I'm sure that Iran would rather Nokia had never sold them network infrastructure in the first place, the way it's turned out.
    • Re:More propaganda (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:34AM (#28420893) Homepage
      Seriously, Why blame the technology ? I mean don't we use the same argument when defending bittorrent?

      It's not the technology it's the people who put it to use.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Seriously, Why blame the technology ? I mean don't we use the same argument when defending bittorrent?

        It's not the technology it's the people who put it to use.

        A) Some technologies are inherently abuseable &/or have a much lower threshold for abuse. (guns & CALEA [wikipedia.org] vs heart monitors)

        B) There's also the matter of the level of abuse. Using bittorrent to infringe copyrights is NOT on the same level as using deep packet inspection to censor free speech. It's a false equivalence that doesn't stand up to any level of scrutiny.

        Of course, this is only relevant in the academic sense, since there are no laws against censorship in Iran and it is unlikely there will be

    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      It couldn't be determined whether the equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks is used specifically for deep packet inspection.

      So they need to perform deep packet inspection on their deep packet inspectors?

    • by will_die (586523)
      What would the story be if a US company had sold the equipment to Iran?
      It would be a story in some areas, FoxNews did a bunch of stuff when it came out that US companies* were selling stuff to Iran; last year when this came out.

      Since Finland probably does not have any trade enbargo against Iran it is perfectly alright for them to sell any equipment they own and it not a story.
      * Companies like Coke, GE, etc do not sell from thier US companies to Iran. Most huge companies have seperate cutout corporati
  • by petrus4 (213815) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:10AM (#28420531) Homepage Journal

    All they're doing is selling the Iranian government some mobile telecommunications infrastructure. What the government decide to do with said infrastructure is entirely their responsibility.

    Sophistry, I hear you say? Only about to the same degree as that moron who was arguing with me here, that the author of the World of Warcraft Glider bot should not be sued by Blizzard; because he wasn't doing anything against the rules himself. All he was doing was creating a macro generation program; what other people did with it was entirely their own responsibility.

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      Well, they sold them telecom infrastructure, but the contract mandated a "monitoring centre" which Iran could then kit out with network-meddling equipment acquired from God knows who (the article isn't clear). Now, you could argue that giving the average Iranian access to cellphones and the internet balances out the (somewhat shoddy) web filtering, but it doesn't change the fact that Nokia did contribute to the operation.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by copponex (13876)

      There's an ocean of difference between selling a product on an open market, and selling a product directly to a dictatorship when you know it's going to be used to suppress the populace. This is known as "unethical behavior," something corporations and the Pentagon know nothing about. It requires a person or a group of people to have a real set of values that they don't violate on a regular basis for power or profit.

      Often these things come back to bite one in the ass [casi.org.uk]:

      As late as July, 1990, one month before

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:13AM (#28420569)
    Sadly, we've come to accept most modern corporations as pretty much ammoral when it comes to stuff like this, and they're rarely ever held accountable in any meaningful way. The bulk of the population will no more hold this against Nokia/Seimens than they will hold Volkswagon responsible for its early Nazi roots (does it invoke Godwin's Law to mention that?), Yahoo/Google responsible for selling out dissidents in China, etc., etc.
    • Sadly, we've come to accept most modern corporations as pretty much ammoral when it comes to stuff like this, and they're rarely ever held accountable in any meaningful way. The bulk of the population will no more hold this against Nokia/Seimens than they will hold Volkswagon responsible for its early Nazi roots (does it invoke Godwin's Law to mention that?), Yahoo/Google responsible for selling out dissidents in China, etc., etc.

      Yes, look at the whole concept of "corporate personhood" and how it works out.

      Look at this as an example, the oil industry in Nigeria, or the Military-Industrial complex. Corporate personhood is a collective psychopath .

      It is unfortunate, but Nokia and Siemens selling to Iran isn't up the sharp end of misdemeanours. If I had to think of one example, I'd say "Union Carbide". After their disaster in India I believe corporate personhood should allow for corporate execution. In reality you can't even hold comp

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:14AM (#28420589)

    Anyone who professes to that an imaginary being is responsible for everything is insane and doesn't deserve any benefit of science. Jonas Salk, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Edison, Galileo Galilei, and the other great minds have saved more souls and advanced humanity further than any Mullah, Pastor, or Priest of any faith. The Mad Mullahs of Iran don't deserve cell phones or any other bit of technology.
    Yeah, it's a rant, but I'm just tired of religious nut jobs of any type forcing their superstitions on anyone else.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bashae (1250564)

      Marin Mersenne [wikipedia.org]

      Gregor Mendel [wikipedia.org]

      Julius Nieuwland [wikipedia.org]

      Georges Lemaitre [wikipedia.org]

      You fanatic atheists are just as bad, if not worse, than fanatic religious believers. Your baseless hatred and uninformed blunders don't lend you a lot of credibility, you know?

      True scientists are open minded. Fortunately for the world, both the people you mentioned and the people I mentioned were not like you.

      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:33AM (#28420865) Homepage

        When we start long bloody wars or we burn heretics, then come and talk.

        Until then you are just spouting mindless hyperbole.

        Ultimately, your hyperbole is it's own most convincing disproof of itself.

        • by Bashae (1250564)

          Did any of these people, or I, start a long bloody war or burn anyone?

          Can you explain to me how, exactly, sharing a belief with criminals who live far away or lived hundreds of years ago and who I never met makes me one?

          If you like yoghurt and so did Hitler, can I reproach you for that? (I know, I know, Godwin.)

          See Mersenne, who I mentioned in my previous post. He was a friend and defender of Galileo, mentioned by the OP. Galileo was persecuted by the inquisition, but defended by this theologian. Does it re

    • by moose_hp (179683)

      [...] Louis Pasteur [...]

      Years ago, a student in Paris, on his way to the university, hopped on the train and found an empty seat next to an elderly man. As the train moved off, the student noticed that the old man was praying the rosary. Watching him for a while out of the corner of his eye, he finally blurted out, "Excuse me, sir, but I couldn't help but notice what you are doing, and I wonder if you are aware how superstitious and old-fashioned it is." "Oh, really?" replied the old man, "Tell me more." "I have to get off at the next stop," replied the student, "but just give me your name and address, and I will send you some books that will explain what I mean." As the train came to a halt, the man wrote his name and address on a scrap of paper and handed it to the student, who stuffed it in his pocket and hurried off. Later in the day, the student remembered the scrap of paper, took it from his pocket, and opened it. Reading the name scribbled on it, he was dumbfounded: "Louis Pasteur." To his dismay, he realized that he had been talking to a famous scientist, known the world over for his achievements in the field of bacteriology.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by StikyPad (445176)

      All of the people you mentioned were also religious.

      Also, insane people deserve technology at least as much as anyone else.. and probably need it more.

  • Like the Nazis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@@@justconnected...net> on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:19AM (#28420661)

    It just occured to me that I Godwin'd this story already, but this is just like when IBM sold adding machines to the Nazis to help them tabulate Holocaust victims.

    Way I see it, who cares? The corner store selling smokes isn't to blame for the lung cancer - ultimately the smoker is. Except it's even more generic than that.

    - Siemens sold network technology to Iran - the same you'd use for all sorts of network admin - and they used it to censor. That's Iran's bad.
    - IBM sold adding machines - they'll count anything - and the Nazis used them to count Jews (and others). That's the Nazi's bad.

    In short, don't blame the maker for the use of the tool.

    • by andrewd18 (989408)
      Thank you. Deep packet inspection is nothing new and it's up to its administrator to make wise decisions about how and when to use it. This has very little to do with Nokia and Siemens, other than the fact that they had a customer and the customer happened to use it in an inappropriate manner.
    • Re:Like the Nazis (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Comatose51 (687974) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:02AM (#28421369) Homepage
      I was going to advocate the same position in my own reply until I realized that taken to the extreme, this position has some problems. If we say that the tool makers are always guilt free, then companies should be able to sell nuclear weapons or parts for one to anyone they like. Fine. Then what happens when those weapons are used? We can argue that the companies are blameless still and ultimately the guilty part is the country that chose to use the weapons. At that point, who cares about moralistic arguments? If millions of people died because a company sold the tools necessary to do that, the company is going to ripped to pieces. Furthermore, is it right for a company to sell the tools to someone if it knew the tools would be used for something bad? I don't think it is. I guess my point is that whether a company is guilty or not depends a lot on whether it knew or could have know that its actions will lead to bad consequences. It's not fair to blame someone for something that couldn't have been foreseen. However, purposely enabling an evil deed is another story.
      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        That's why it's best to not put forth absurd and extreme "what if" scenerios and to always apply common sense. Judgements shouldn't be made in broad sweeping generalizations.

      • by nametaken (610866)

        There's this commonly accepted practice among techies, and indeed much of academia, where we try so hard to make guidelines that apply to 100% of all situations.

        You're both right. Yes, he's right, blame Nazis instead of IBM. No, you're right, it doesn't make sense to take that rule "to the extreme" and sell nukes to just anyone. Somewhere in between those two examples, real life happens and we have to make real life decisions. It's an issue of taking the context into account, and I'm philosophically OK

    • by noz (253073)

      IBM sold adding machines - they'll count anything - and the Nazis used them to count Jews (and others). That's the Nazi's bad.

      The difference here is that IBM supported an enemy Government in time of war.

    • The way I see it, one should care: the end of the war was dictated by realities on the war front. The survival in the largest concentration camps was between 3 and 6 months (it was nearly impossible to survive longer than that. Just the winter roll-calls would be a murdering device all in itself). If the Nazis had a less efficient method of keeping track of the population, they would have picked up the Jews somewhat (it's debatable how much, but probably by a considerable amount) slower than they in fact di

  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:22AM (#28420707) Homepage

    I'm willing to bet if you poll the Iranian population, you will find that the majority of them would support censorship. The same thing would happen in China. Censorship has been with us for as long as there as been communications. I'm not saying it's alright or that censorship is a good thing. Freedom of speech is actually a pretty radical ideal and one that isn't universal outside of the western societies. Even in the US that right is constantly under threat from different sources. At the end of the day it is our believe in the value of freedom of speech that keeps it alive. Look at how often this issue comes up on Slashdot and how people are all up in arms about it. The EFF is constantly busy fighting for it. Didn't some very wise man once said, "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance."? If Iran or China is to have freedom of speech, their people must be convinced of its value and necessity. Until that happens, denying them the technology would lead to them either developing their own or just not connecting to the Internet. I am not sure the latter is actually better.

  • I'm getting a little fatigued of calling these companies out because their products are used for censorship purposes. Where do you draw the line between when it is acceptable to sell to them and when it isn't? Canada engages in certain levels of Internet censorship (child pornography and so forth), should Siemens stop selling to the Canadian government? And more importantly, who decides where to draw that line? The corporations themselves? No thank you, sir.

  • Business as usual (Score:3, Informative)

    by Celeste R (1002377) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:32AM (#28420861)

    The question has to be asked: why does this matter? Iran would still do its own thing.

    In this case, they had the product, so why not buy it? That's not such a hard thing to understand. This is like saying "omg Raytheon makes missiles!" which is no surprise to anyone. What about their clients? What about their unofficial clients? Even those aren't a surprise.

    Sure, we may not agree with Iran's internet policy, and yes, the vendor may take a portion of the blame in an incident, but I hardly see Iran's isolationism as the fault of any one company.

    Seeing as how most of the footage we get out of Iran is from mobile phones and such, is it any surprise that they'd ask a mobile phone maker for help? Business is business, and in this case, it's easy to pin the responsibility on the buying party.

    • by copponex (13876)

      Indeed. Business is business!

      We can sell censorship tools to China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, then sell them some weapons so they can kill off the bits of their populace they don't like. Why not sell them F-22s? Hell, let's sell them some biological weapons and help them finish their nuclear weapons programs. If there's a dime to be made, we should make it! Arming the world and the policing it has worked out well for us so far, hasn't it?

  • by jandersen (462034)

    Do you believe that the public relation damage to these companies can persuade them from selling this kind of technology to other dictatorial regimes?

    Of course not.

    And once again it is time for people to make up their minds - isn't it a basic tenet of Capitalism that the only thing that should concern the employees of a company is to maximize profit? That, in a word, if selling drugs to teenagers, weapons to mercenaries or technology to dictators gives the best profit, then it is your moral duty to do so?

    Ok, ok, so maybe I exaggerate a bit, but I do get tired of hearing these so called "freedom advocates" on one hand tell us how they hate government, any

  • I see a parallel here between the supply of Hollerith card machines (punch card sorters, etc) to Nazi Germany by IBM, and the supply of 'great firewalls' to Iran. In neither case was it critical to the country in question to source their IT equipment from a particular supplier - they just wanted something that worked. The refusal to sell to the government in question wouldn't have materially affected the outcome in that nation. So what's the big deal anyway, since their refusal to sell wouldn't have matt

  • Or, did you stop refueling your car?

  • by Xest (935314) on Monday June 22, 2009 @09:53AM (#28421199)

    It's not as if they probably only got the contract because American companies such as Cisco are forbidden from selling such equipment to Iran.

    My point is that I do not believe there is a company in the world that would pass up this kind of contract. Do I disagree with it's use? Of course I do.

    But I fail to see why Nokia and Siemens should be demonised anymore than any other company in the world - at the end of the day the only difference here between Nokia/Siemens and any other networking company is that those guys got the contract - it didn't mean others didn't bid and it doesn't mean others like Cisco wouldn't also bid if they had the opportunity to.

    Rather than focus on chastising company x for the fact company x sold something to country y which was used in a bad way we should be chastising big corporations in general for this sort of behaviour. It's a problem that extends far far beyond just Nokia and Siemens and we can't expect Nokia and Siemens to change their ways if no one else will else it puts them at a major disadvantage and is like committing corporate suicide.

  • oh yeah, you can't chant "death to america" for 30 years and do business with american companies ;-P

    siemens is german, nokia is finnish

    so dear germans and finns, and euros in general: pillory those fucking companies, in the name of your affinity and fraternity with those simply fighting for their rights in the streets of tehran

    perhaps siemens.com and nokia.com deserve some DDOSing, get their stock to fall with some false rumors, some googlebombing about the truth of their involvement with iranian the regime

  • by Atreide (16473) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:00AM (#28421317)

    well technically Iran is a democracy
    with democratic elections
    and president elected by people.

    obviously there are problems
    and problems with ballot counting,
    however Florida also had ballots accounting problem...

    I do not say Iran is a happy place to live
    but it is more open than many think.

    do you think manifestations would happen in North Corea ?
    do you think people would be able to play WoW or use Twitter in many Burma ?

  • by distantbody (852269) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:03AM (#28421387) Journal
    ...or is this just the media cynically cheering-on a 'peoples revolution' so that they can fill out their news cycles. So far I haven't heard of any widespread election tamporing, some anecdotal stories, unlike in some other elections. I could have missed it though.

    Honestly so far I just see this as a knee-jerk reaction in the west sympathising with the disgruntled minority voters because clearly 'Iranians would never vote for that evil, west-hating dictator, so it must have been rigged'.

    One thing I DID hear through some media analyses is that up until a few months ago, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the favourite to get elected, then he made some fumbles, made some comments, and his standing in THE ELECTION POLLS significantly reduced, and the opposition got giddy. Well that can either be a realistic reflection of the voters intentions, or it could just be a backlash that gets put to the side when it comes to making the final and long-term decision in the voting box.

    So, is there any evidence of election rigging yet?

    PS, I'm not apologising for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, just that suggesting that, maybe, he is popularly supported. I know that when I watched a recent doco about Iran I was surprised that their society was much more modern and free than I felt that I had been led to believe.
    PPS I'm not saying it wasn't rigged either, just that in the large amount of media I have seen on it, it is all about rallys and protest, not of massive vote rigging, feel free to point out something concrete on the contrary.
  • ...and someone uses one of those hammers to beat someone else to death, does that make the manufacturer evil?

    Stop blaming the tools, you morons, and put the blame where it belongs: on those who decide to abuse those tools for their own, evil ends.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      If the hammer maker sells a lot of them to someone knowing that's going to be the primary use then yes, I'm going to blame the hammer maker.
    • by Verdatum (1257828)
      This guy has the right idea. It's not even like the technology is difficult to create. If Nokia/Siemens didn't make it, someone else would have. Although the cost of this tech would just be a drop in the bucket, economically speaking, it's better for them to be importing this technology than to be developing it domestically. Anyone is more than welcome to be upset at Iran or anyone else for censorship, but direct that anger at the censors, and the government that supports the censors. It feels like th
  • so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday June 22, 2009 @10:41AM (#28422065) Homepage Journal

    Funny how we react differently to other technology. We say that P2P is not only for copyright infringement, but also for other uses. We say that hacker tools are also used by security researchers and consultants. Whenever the politicians or the mainstream press try to demonize a technology, we are the first to show that it's not that simple.

    But with technology that hits one of our sweet spots - censorship - we turn around 180 degrees? And wish the companies PR backlash? Why? Are we doing anyone a favour? Should not the anger about censorship be focussed on those who engage and support censorship, and not the technology?

  • If it weren't Nokia-Siemens it would have been another big corporation... Iran would be still under surveillance.

  • There are scores of articles on the news, in just the past 6 months, about FREE DEMOCRATIC NATIONS implementing censorship. The fact that Iran censors something that those same nations think should be freely broadcast changes nothing. The UK, the US, Australia, and Germany lead the list, with thousands upon thousands of sites that they want censored.

    World attention is focused on Iran's censorship at the moment, but give it a few weeks, and 99% of the world's population will have their heads in the sand ag

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