For background on Iranian politics, the authors of this article went for ideology rather than knowledge; they turned to the right-wing Freedom House and the dreadful Foundation for Defense of Democracies — a bomb-them-and-take-their-oil outfit that has been hawking an attack on Teheran ever since 9/11. That slant, however, seems separate from an otherwise well-sourced story. For some years now, including the days of the worst repression in Iran, communications and security corporations have been selling surveillance technology to the oppressors.
Even as the pariah state pursued a brutal political crackdown, including arrests and executions surrounding its contested 2009 elections, European companies supplied Iran with location tracking and text-message monitoring equipment that can turn mobile phones into tools for surveillance.
Stockholm-based Ericsson AB, Creativity Software Ltd. of the U.K. and Dublin-based AdaptiveMobile Security Ltd. marketed or provided gear over the past two years that Iran’s law enforcement or state security agencies would have access to, according to more than 100 documents and interviews with more than two dozen technicians and managers who worked on the systems.
Read the whole piece. It’s not as though the firms didn’t know what they were doing. In fact, their staff had to clock overtime to help Ahmadinejad hunt down dissidents.
Ericsson, the world’s largest maker of wireless networks, confirmed that in the fourth quarter of 2009 it sold a mobile- positioning center for customer billing purposes to MTN Irancell Telecommunications Services Co., Iran’s second-largest mobile provider.
When Iranian security officers needed to locate a target one night in late 2009, one former Ericsson employee says he got an emergency call to come into the office to fix a glitch in an Ericsson positioning center.
Indeed, they actively marketed the surveillance systems as answers to the regime’s needs:
Ericsson, the telecommunications giant with $28 billion in sales last year, in 2008 supplied Irancell with its Mobile Positioning System 9.0 for locating subscribers — a test system that Ericsson says Irancell didn’t buy and could use only on a limited scale.
Ericsson later sold Irancell the positioning-data component of the test system, says Richard Carter, Ericsson’s Istanbul- based head of commercial, sourcing and partnering in the Middle East and the country manager for Iran. It was sold in late 2009, the company confirmed. Known as a Serving Mobile Positioning Centre, the box calculates a person’s position and logs the data.
A former Irancell manager said that all such systems supplied to the mobile operator, including technology from Ericsson, were accessible by law enforcement agencies.
The former Ericsson employee urgently called in to fix the system in late 2009 says he was told that Iranian intelligence officers were attempting to pinpoint the location of someone in the Zahedan area of southeast Iran.
Communications corporations in the post-industrial West market the feeling of freedom: breaking loose from tangible constraints and borders, streaming into pure ether and cyberliberty. The erotic exultation attached to the tininess of the things — my mobile is thinner than yours; my mobile doubles as a contact lens — hints at a commercialized desire to drop the concrete side of technology altogether, to dematerialize, evaporate and disappear. By contrast, the Iranian state, to a degree unusual in the world, invests its legitimacy in its capacity to control citizens’ bodies, movements, personal behavior. Its power is about positioning, about pinning you up or down and placing you and keeping tabs on who and where you are. It’s mildly interesting if unsurprising, I suppose, how a Janus-faced firm like Ericsson manages to make both appeals.
Meanwhile, on the subject of personal control, the Iranian football federation’s disciplinary committee has banned two players “indefinitely from all football activities for committing immoral acts.”
Footage posted online shows Persepolis defender Mohammed Nosrati squeezing teammate Sheis Rezaei’s bottom.
Another video seems to show Rezaei squeezing a teammate later in the 3-2 Persepolis victory over Damash Gilan.
The game was broadcast live to millions. Nosrati and Rezaei have said they did not intend to offend anyone.
At least they weren’t sexting.