[IRP] Fwd: WSJ: Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology

Phillip Roberts phillipcrob
Tue Jun 23 16:27:10 EEST 2009

Thanks Robyn.

I note partcularly the following paragraph:

"Internet censoring in Iran was developed with the initial justification of
blocking online pornography, among other material considered offensive by
the regime, according to those who have studied the country's censoring."


On Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 4:25 PM, Robin Gross <robin at ipjustice.org> wrote:

> FYI:
> Begin forwarded message:
>  *From: *Thiru Balasubramaniam <thiru at keionline.org>
> *Date: *June 21, 2009 11:11:40 PM PDT
> *To: *Vera Franz <vfranz at osf-eu.org>, Robin Gross <robin at ipjustice.org>,
> James Love <james.love at keionline.org>, Manon Ress <
> manon.ress at keionline.org>, Brad Biddle <brad.biddle at intel.com>, Nick
> Ashton-Hart <nashton at consensus.pro>, Sachiko Muto <sachiko.muto at gmail.com>,
> Malini Aisola <malini.aisola at keionline.org>, Rishab Ghosh <
> rishab.ghosh at gmail.com>, Daniel Dardailler <danield at w3.org>
> *Subject: **WSJ: Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology*
>  * The Wall Street Journal
>    * JUNE 22, 2009
> Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
> The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European
> telecommunications companies, one of the world's most sophisticated
> mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to
> examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale.
> Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say
> Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking
> access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.
> View Full Image
> Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
> AFP/Getty Images
> An undated screen grab from an Internet video shows a young woman
> identified only as Neda, who has become an iconic image of the violence
> during Iranian protests over the nation's disputed presidential election.
> Because of reporting restrictions in Tehran, the incident could not be
> independently verified.
> Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
> Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
> Instead, 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 included mobile-phone
> networking technology, Mr. Roome said.
> "If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to
> intercept any communication that runs over them," said Mr. Roome.
> The sale of the equipment to Iran by the joint venture, called Nokia
> Siemens Networks, was previously reported last year by the editor of an
> Austrian information-technology Web site called Futurezone.
> The Iranian government had experimented with the equipment for brief
> periods in recent months, but it had not been used extensively, and
> therefore its capabilities weren't fully displayed -- until during the
> recent unrest, the Internet experts interviewed said.
> "We didn't know they could do this much," said a network engineer in
> Tehran. "Now we know they have powerful things that allow them to do very
> complex tracking on the network."
> [Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology]
> 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.
> All eyes have been on the Internet amid the crisis in Iran, and government
> attempts to crack down on information. The infiltration of Iranian online
> traffic could explain why the government has allowed the Internet to
> continue to function -- and also why it has been running at such slow speeds
> in the days since the results of the presidential vote spurred unrest.
> Users in the country report the Internet having slowed to less than a tenth
> of normal speeds. Deep packet inspection delays the transmission of online
> data unless it is offset by a huge increase in processing power, according
> to Internet experts.
> 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."
> China's vaunted "Great Firewall," which is widely considered the most
> advanced and extensive Internet censoring in the world, is believed also to
> involve deep packet inspection. But China appears to be developing this
> capability in a more decentralized manner, at the level of its Internet
> service providers rather than through a single hub, according to experts.
> That suggests its implementation might not be as uniform as that in Iran,
> they said, as the arrangement depends on the cooperation of all the service
> providers.
> Related Video
> Iran's government is a combination of democracy and Islamic theocracy. Take
> a look at the power structure.
> View Interactive
> The difference, at least in part, has to do with scale: China has about 300
> million Internet users, the most of any country. Iran, which has an
> estimated 23 million users, can track all online communication through a
> single location called the Telecommunication Infrastructure Co., part of the
> government's telecom monopoly. All of the country's international links run
> through the company.
> Separately, officials from the U.S. embassy in Beijing on Friday met with
> Chinese officials to express concerns about a new requirement that all PCs
> sold in the China starting July 1 be installed with Web-filtering software.
> If a government wants to control the flow of information across its borders
> it's no longer enough to block access to Web sites hosted elsewhere. Now, as
> sharing online images and messages through social-networking sites has
> become easy and popular, repressive regimes are turning to technologies that
> allow them to scan such content from their own citizens, message by message.
> Human-rights groups have criticized the selling of such equipment to Iran
> and other regimes considered repressive, because it can be used to crack
> down on dissent, as evidenced in the Iran crisis. Asked about selling such
> equipment to a government like Iran's, Mr. Roome of Nokia Siemens Networks
> said the company "does have a choice about whether to do business in any
> country. We believe providing people, wherever they are, with the ability to
> communicate is preferable to leaving them without the choice to be heard."
> Countries with repressive governments aren't the only ones interested in
> such technology. Britain has a list of blocked sites, and the German
> government is considering similar measures. In the U.S., the National
> Security Agency has such capability, which was employed as part of the Bush
> administration's "Terrorist Surveillance Program." A White House official
> wouldn't comment on if or how this is being used under the Obama
> administration.
> The Australian government is experimenting with Web-site filtering to
> protect its youth from online pornography, an undertaking that has triggered
> criticism that it amounts to government-backed censorship.
> Content inspection and filtering technology are already common among
> corporations, schools and other institutions, as part of efforts to block
> spam and viruses, as well as to ensure that employees and students comply
> with computer-use guidelines. Families use filtering on their home computers
> to protect their children from undesirable sites, such as pornography and
> gambling.
> Internet censoring in Iran was developed with the initial justification of
> blocking online pornography, among other material considered offensive by
> the regime, according to those who have studied the country's censoring.
> Iran has been grappling with controlling the Internet since its use moved
> beyond universities and government agencies in the late 1990s. At times, the
> government has tried to limit the country's vibrant blogosphere -- for
> instance, requiring bloggers to obtain licenses from the government, a
> directive that has proved difficult to enforce, according to the OpenNet
> Initiative, a partnership of universities that study Internet filtering and
> surveillance. (The partners are Harvard University, the University of
> Toronto, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.)
> Beginning in 2001, the government required Internet service providers to
> install filtering systems, and also that all international connections link
> to a single gateway controlled by the country's telecom monopoly, according
> to an OpenNet study.
> Iran has since blocked Internet users in the country from more than five
> million sites in recent years, according to estimates from the press-freedom
> group Reporters Without Borders.
> View Slideshow
> [SB124561206327535087]
> In the 2005 presidential election, the government shut down the Internet
> for hours, blaming it on a cyberattack from abroad, a claim that proved
> false, according to several Tehran engineers.
> Several years ago, research by OpenNet discovered the government using
> filtering equipment from a U.S. company, Secure Computing Corp. Due to the
> U.S. trade embargo on Iran, in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution
> overthrew the U.S.-backed shah, that was illegal. Secure Computing, now
> owned by McAfee Inc., at the time denied any knowledge of the use of its
> products in Iran. McAfee said due diligence before the acquisition revealed
> no contract or support being provided in Iran.
> Building online-content inspection on a national scale and coordinated at a
> single location requires hefty resources, including manpower, processing
> power and technical expertise, Internet experts said.
> Nokia Siemens Networks provided equipment to Iran last year under the
> internationally recognized concept of "lawful intercept," said Mr. Roome.
> That relates to intercepting data for the purposes of combating terrorism,
> child pornography, drug trafficking and other criminal activities carried
> out online, a capability that most if not all telecom companies have, he
> said.
> The monitoring center that Nokia Siemens Networks sold to Iran was
> described in a company brochure as allowing "the monitoring and interception
> of all types of voice and data communication on all networks." The joint
> venture exited the business that included the monitoring equipment, what it
> called "intelligence solutions," at the end of March, by selling it to
> Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP, a Munich-based investment firm, Mr. Roome said.
> He said the company determined it was no longer part of its core business.
> ?Ben Worthen in San Francisco, Mike Esterl in Atlanta and Siobhan Gorman in
> Washington contributed to this article.
> Write to Christopher Rhoads at christopher.rhoads at wsj.com and Loretta Chao
> at loretta.chao at wsj.com
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Thiru Balasubramaniam
> Geneva Representative
> Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
> thiru at keionline.org
> Tel: +41 22 791 6727
> Mobile: +41 76 508 0997
> Robin Gross, Executive Director
> 1192 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA  94117  USA
> p: +1-415-553-6261    f: +1-415-462-6451
> w: http://www.ipjustice.org     e: robin at ipjustice.org
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