Report: Siemens, Nokia aided Iran's Web censorship

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Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep-packet inspection

European telecommunications companies Siemens and Nokia, most commonly known for developing advanced cell phones and other network technologies, are responsible for creating the technology behind Iran’s sophisticated Internet censorship, according to a Monday report in The Wall Street Journal.

The tech, which can block Web sites and cut lines of communication, goes much further than many other countries’ Web filtration and actually enables government agents to alter communications to spread disinfo.

     

in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep-packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

The "monitoring center," installed within the government’s telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that includes mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said.

[…]

Iran is "now drilling into what the population is trying to say," said Bradley Anstis, director of technical strategy with Marshal8e6 Inc., an Internet security company in Orange, Calif. He and other experts interviewed have examined Internet traffic flows in and out of Iran that show characteristics of content inspection, among other measures. "This looks like a step beyond what any other country is doing, including China."

The Nokia/Siemens filter essentially funnels the entire country’s Internet through one "choke point," the Journal added, noting that since the Iranian presidential election, network speed has dropped dramatically, likely caused by massive packet inspection server load and an eruption in digital communications amid the unrest.

So, supporters of a democratic Iran, thinking about getting a new cell phone now?

— Stephen C. Webster

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