Nokia-Siemens: What can communications companies do to prevent state surveillance?

The head of media relations at Nokia Siemens Networks talks to FSD about the misuse of technology by autocratic regimes and its new human rights due diligence process.

Ben Roome, head of media relations at Nokia Siemens Networks, speaks about the company’s regret over the sale of communications technology to the Iranian government, which was used to spy on its citizens during the disputed 2009 election. Roome says the sale was not naive as selling technology for lawful state interception is standard: “I think that telecoms providers … just provide what countries and states require them to provide. They have not been in the habit of making a judgment call on how that technology may be used.” Since 2009, however, Nokia Siemens has introduced a due diligence process to vet all government sales to ensure misuse does not occur. Asked whether the company sells technology to Syria, Bahrain or Yemen, Roome says: “I would need to check exactly what our situation is.”

Main image: Iranian supporters of defeated reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi demonstrate in the streets on June 15, 2009 in Tehran, Iran (photo by Getty Images).

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford.

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