Iranian-Canadians fear Iran could be using social media to spy
Many Iranian-Canadians have used the internet and cellphones to keep in touch with family during the turbulent post-election period in Iran, but some say they're also afraid the same technology could be used to monitor them.
Some Iranian-Canadians are calling for a boycott of Nokia Siemens Networks products because the company has provided the Iranian government with technology to spy on communications.
The country has reportedly blocked some communications and websites and has been following some types of communication with the help of call-monitoring technology created by the company, a merger of Siemens AG, based in Germany, and Finnish cellphone company Nokia Corporation.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been blocked, but some Iranians have been using proxy servers to access the sites.
Meradod Hariri, who speaks for the Committee for Solidarity with Iran, said he thinks the company should consider how its technology might be used by the Iranian government.
"I hope that Nokia Siemens joint venture will take the responsibility to recall the products and stop providing support to the Iranian regime," he said.
"We know right now this product is being used against the freedom of expression in Iran."
According to the Nokia Siemens Networks website, the company has provided the Iranian government with Lawful Intercept technology to monitor local voice calls within the country but does not monitor data, internet, international calls or perform speech recognition.
"Nokia Siemens Networks has not provided any deep-packet inspection, web censorship or Internet filtering capability to Iran," said the posting.
Deep-packet inspection can help block and monitor communication.
"In most countries around the world, including all EU member states and the U.S., telecommunications networks are legally required to have the capability for Lawful Intercept, and this is also the case in Iran," it said.
"Contrary to speculation in the media, the technology supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks cannot be used for the monitoring or censorship of internet traffic."
But Soghrai Jafari, who came to Canada 22 years ago, said she still worries about her family in Iran and their use of the internet to send news out of the country.
"We have to boycott [Nokia Siemens] for the Iran crackdown," she said.
Jafari said she doesn't think countries with questionable human rights records should be allowed this kind of technology.
"Basically, [Nokia Siemens] has a responsibility to ensure its technology is used in an ethical manner," she said.
Ron Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which focuses on the convergence of technology and world politics, said the debate over the use of monitoring technology is an important one.
"There is no clear solution," he said.
"My own feeling right now is that there needs to be lot more awareness raised for the average person who takes for granted the technologies they use and doesn't think much about what goes on beneath the surface."
Deibert said that in order to protect individuals, a combination of government policies, international regulations and shareholder activism must be put into place.