Tehran, Iran – Iranians are boycotting Nokia for what is being seen as collaboration with the government.
According to the Iranian press, demands for Nokia handsets has halved, despite the fact that, through a joint venture, it offers the best mobile coverage in the country.
The boycott follows calls to action from local liberal newspapers. These allege that Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) sold monitoring systems to the government, along with an internet filtering system called Webwasher. Released prisoners have said that the authorities had details of their phone calls and SMS messages.
NSN admits providing technology for the monitoring of local voice calls in Iran, but is highly defensive about the situation. “In most countries around the world, including all EU member states and the US, telecommunications networks are legally required to have the capability for Lawful Intercept and this is also the case in Iran,” said the company in a statement.
NSN denied providing an internet filtering capability to the country. “Contrary to speculation in the media, the technology supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks cannot be used for the monitoring or censorship of internet traffic,” it said.
The company is claiming that its presence in the country acts as a force for good. “Would people in Iran be better off without access to telecommunications at all?” queried Ben Roome, head of media relations. “We did have a choice as to whether we bring the Iranian people this connectivity, in the knowledge that telecoms networks have the ability to monitor voice calls as they do all over the world, and believe there is a net benefit to the people of Iran.”
Other companies are also feeling the cost of public disapproval, including the state telecoms company TCI and the state broadcaster.