Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Iran Using Hi-tech to Spy on Its Citizens?

In what might be shocking news for proponents of free speech online and libertarianism, news from Iran indicates that the country is using advanced surveillance systems supplied by Siemens and Nokia to spy on its citizens using the internet, according to Wall Street Journal. The technology called "Deep Packet Inspection" involves:

"Deep packet inspection involves inserting equipment into a flow of online data, from emails and Internet phone calls to images and messages on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Every digitized packet of online data is deconstructed, examined for keywords and reconstructed within milliseconds. In Iran's case, this is done for the entire country at a single choke point, according to networking engineers familiar with the country's system. It couldn't be determined whether the equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks is used specifically for deep packet inspection."

Have heard of the Stasi spying on common citizens in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) and maintaining detailed accounts of their activities. Has that come to Iran too? What should be addressed, too, is the multinationals' willingness to succumb to go to any extent to make profits.

Interestingly in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index Iran ranked 168 out of 180 countries surveyed and India ranked 84 out of 180. That only means one thing: less transparency means being neurotic enough to curtail their freedom of expression. What has happened in the tribal areas around Dhantewada where the massacre of CRPF jawans occurred is that corruption has got to such a degree that there is general cynicism and a feeling that "nothing can be done." The poor who have been marginalised are moving to cities leaving the remote villages to exploitation of every sort and in extreme cases to militias. What will result? The rise of warlords and militias as happened in Congo?


ms said...

a system similar to this is operating on twitter. i know this from personal experience. you just have to use certain words and suddenly some obscure group starts to follow you. as soon as you stop mentioning those words, they stop. way back in the mid 90s, our eastern neighbours (no names!) had begun monitoring cellphones, internet, chat groups, landlines. people were arrested for even expressing their opinions to family and friends. humiliation on tv continued by parading the "guilty" and having them confess again and again. parents would lose jobs, bank loans were called in etc etc. iran is still an autocratic govt and whatever they do to keep their citizens on a tight leash will never raise any eyebrows. in fact, what goes on behind the bead curtains in the mid-east is beyond understanding. and about the dantewada massacre: it will sink into obscurity. the killings continue to this day, a couple here and a couple there. and the most depressing sight last night? a smiling roy on tv, mentioning the "maoist movement began in 1967" as a way of explaining away the murders. she should have mentioned how different today's maoist militia is to the inspired rebels of 1967. she just sits there, with misplaced fervour, and has no tears to shed for the young CRPF jawans, 24 killed in camp + 17 killed earlier in a police station + 76 in dantewada + a beheaded inspector + 11 in another skirmish, or the villagers murdered in revenge. she has a cause to espouse and a pulitzer winner just waiting to flow through her fingers. this is what is fanning the violence - the spotlight she has turned on the armed mobs. i did write in my earlier comment that her presence among the maoist mob will escalate the violence. and it has. but i digress, sorry john. what began as a comment on iran's big brother practice has ended with an unrelated rant.

John said...

Ms, no, its' all right, you have a right to express your opinion, let's not be small-hearted (as some say) about this. I support Roy's initiatives, however, I am a bit sceptical if her presence has escalated the violence.