Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Iranian Police Tracking Dissidents Using Tech From Western Companies

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the serving-the-almighty-buck dept.

Government 161

chrb writes "A recent article at Bloomberg discusses Western companies supplying monitoring equipment to Iran. There are few regulations restricting the sale of intelligence monitoring systems to the Iranian government, and large corporations like Ericsson and Nokia have supplied the equipment used to identify dissidents and suppress anti-government protests. '[One such system from Creativity Software] can record a person’s location every 15 seconds — eight times more frequently than a similar system the company sold in Yemen, according to company documents. A tool called "geofences" triggers an alarm when two targets come in close proximity to each other. The system also stores the data and can generate reports of a person's movements. A former Creativity Software manager said the Iran system was far more sophisticated than any other systems the company had sold in the Middle East.'"

cancel ×

161 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Profit! (4, Insightful)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949078)

Hey, we're not in business to preserve human rights. In fact, we would be legally liable for failing our fiduciary duty to our shareholders if we failed to pursue the lucrative oppression-assistance market. We were incorporated to pursue profit and, by golly, that's what we're doing!

Re:Profit! (4, Insightful)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949184)

Really, it's just the corporations getting practice for when they have to track the dissidents for their own purposes. Brought to you by Carl's Jr.

Re:Profit! (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949460)

Too true.

Businesses are not the only ones doing this (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949238)

Most of the weapons that have flooded the third world come from Russia (or the Soviet Union in the past), China or a handful of other countries that routinely ignore international law and protocol on arms dealing. Where was the outrage when the Libyan rebels found all of those brand new Chinese weapons from the Chinese state-owned weapons makers in Gaddafi's posession? Ever notice the dearth of American weapons in all of the third world killing zones?

Frankly, I don't think the pursuit of profit is any more crass than the pursuit of political influence. Either way, you are putting your own good above doing the right thing.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949466)

America makes some fine weapons systems in the cruise missle/air superiority fighter category. Conflicts in the third world usually swing more on lower-level weapons such as rifles and grenades and the like, which the Russians and Chinese do very well (some would argue better than the Americans).

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949558)

America makes some fine weapons systems in the cruise missle/air superiority fighter category. Conflicts in the third world usually swing more on lower-level weapons such as rifles and grenades and the like, which the Russians and Chinese do very well (some would argue better than the Americans).

About a year ago I was noodling around in the desert in Nevada and found dozens of expended cartridge shells. I picked them up and brought them home. The marking was "bxn 85", which I found to be a style of rifle popular in Russia from the time of the Tsars to the present, the 7.62mm54R. Oddly enough you can go into a Big 5 sporting goods and find a rifle which uses these shells (still commonly produced in Poland and Czech Republic) for $90 to $120, depending upon when they are on Sale. Comparable to any 30-06, which was a military rifle before becoming popular with hunters/sport shooters.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950146)

The .30-06 is a specific type of ammunition, not a rifle. A more comparable comparison for the 7.62x54r is a .308 Winchester -- still a decent performing round in wide use today. The Mosin Nagant mentioned from Big 5 is a perfectly serviceable rifle provided the one you get is in good condition -- inspect for rust and gauge the chamber before you fire.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (2)

modecx (130548) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950934)

The difference between .30-06 M1 ball and surplus 7.62x54r is a muzzle velocity of about 50-100fps for a bullet of comparable weight, out of a barrel of comparable length, with the very slight edge going to .30-06. .30-06 and 7.62x54r is the apt comparison, as each was designed originally for bolt action service rifles, and each was later adopted to various machine gun applications.

Also, by the time 7.62x51 NATO was adopted, each of the above cartridges had already been in service for about a half century.

Funny enough, it doesn't matter whether the rifle in question is a 1903 Springfield or a Remington, Browning, Savage, hunting rifle or battle rifle, owners usually refer to their their rifles as "mah thirty-aught-six"

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949568)

The good old AK47 is still the weapon of choice for many militias on a budget. It's cheap, takes cheap bullets, easily maintained and nearly indestructable. In rain or sand, snow or mud, twenty below or fifty above, it'll keep on killing. Russian engineering at it's best.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (0)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950036)

such as rifles and grenades and the like, which the Russians and Chinese do very well (some would argue better than the Americans).

Depends on your metric. If you wish to use a rifle as a rifle and strike a target from a distance, you are better off with an M16 variant than an AK-47 variant. If you wish to treat a rifle as a brick and then expect it to fire in the general vicinity of an adversary, then the AS-47 is your platform of choice. The functionality of the AK-47 in harsh conditions is a bit of engineering with a lot of loose tolerances.

Both will do the job. It comes down to a preference for accurate fire or spray-and-pray.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (0)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950684)

Both will do the job. It comes down to a preference for accurate fire or spray-and-pray.

single shots or short bursts to the distance of about 300m - which is to say, accurate enough to hit a man - which is precisely what it was designed for (based on Soviet WW2 experience). It is not at all accurate if you fire long bursts, at any range other than CQB, because it has enough felt recoil to disrupt aiming.

It's true that many militias do use it in "spray and pray" mode, but they do so with other full auto weapons as well, and it happens due to lack of experience, not because it works better that way. Professional armies that use AK rifles - and specifically, Soviet army, which introduced it - have always trained soldiers to fire single shots or short bursts.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no assault rifles that are designed for "spray and pray" - it's just not what this weapon category is for.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (1)

Magnus Pym (237274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949508)

America is the largest arms exporter in the world; the only reason the dictators don't provide American arms to their rank and file is because they are in general too expensive and perceived to be unreliable compared to AKs. But there are plenty of American-made heavy weapons found all over third-world killing zones.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950124)

"the dictators don't provide American arms to their rank and file"
  So Saudis are not dictators? Or other persian-gulf states?
  Actually, any oppressor, who buys weapons from US, is not an oppressor by definition.

Puh-leeze (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949622)

You must be joking. The US is the world's largest exporter of weapons. Amongst the countries the US exports weapons to, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and Israel have recently been in the news for their "killing fields".

Of course, what the US govt does is make a list of evil doers and good guys. This list has little to do with killing fields or human rights, but rather political convenience and the lobbying of the arms industry. Then when someone sells to the side that the US govt doesn't like or couldn't sell to, there is much screaming about "international protocol" (ie. the list drawn up by the US and its rapidly dwindling allies).

Just because the US makes a list doesn't mean it's true or anyone else accepts it—don't be such a tool.

Re:Puh-leeze (0)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950280)

... when someone sells to the side that the US govt doesn't like or couldn't sell to, there is much screaming about "international protocol" (ie. the list drawn up by the US and its rapidly dwindling allies).

Just because the US makes a list doesn't mean it's true or anyone else accepts it ...

Outside of the US, most people dismiss pretty much anything the American administration says. It's no secret that US national morality and corporate profit fit together like a hand and a glove.

Corporations own the US government outright, even Americans know that.

Re:Puh-leeze (1)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950672)

The US is the worlds largest arms exporter because it has so many wealthy allies. When you're trading arms with places like: Japan, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, South Korea, etc. (you know places with real economies and money) it's not hard to see why they are the biggest. You don't need to (but they probably do anyways) violate arms embargoes when you can sign NATO friends up for multi-decade, multi-billion dollar tanks/fighters/ships/rockets.

I seriously doubt the handful of weapons Yemen buys is in anyway comparable to places like South Korea. There is a big difference between Canada dropping $35B on fighter jets from the US, and Gaddafi buying $(small number) small arms from China.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949674)

Ever notice the dearth of American weapons in all of the third world killing zones?

No, actually - first off, I've never been there, so I have no firsthand knowledge. Second, with the amount of American-backed violence in those Third World 'killing zones', I figure they must have handed the guys we've decided are on our side at least a few American weapons.

There's also a practical reason for preferring the Russian-made weapons over American-made: The AK-47 is cheaper to make, and easier to maintain, repair, and clean.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950938)

Actually we buy russian weapons for them. We supplied the Afghani and Iraqi army with more Soviet ammunition than i can count. This of course was never bought from Russia because that would be bad and is not allowed. But its ok to buy them from just about any ex-Soviet country. Defense contracting is a funny business.

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950098)

> Ever notice the dearth of American weapons in all of the third world killing zones?

Don't worry, the American weapons are all being used to outfit drug cartels!

Re:Businesses are not the only ones doing this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950534)

I'm surprised at how infrequently France makes the cut in lists of major arms-supplying nuisances. The US has the largest share of the arms export market in absolute terms, but as a percentage of GDP the French surpass the Americans by far, and they have a great list of past clients, like the Hutus of Rwanda (1) and Gaddafi (2).

(1) French arms, war and genocide in Rwanda: http://www.springerlink.com/content/j5571355l6m6rr48/ [springerlink.com] ; see also http://www.pulitzer.org/archives/5706 [pulitzer.org] and, for more recent take, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/11/rwanda.insideafrica [guardian.co.uk] .

(2) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22189006/ns/world_news-mideast_n_africa/t/gadhafi-visits-france-arms-nuclear-deals/ [msn.com] , from that trip where he set up his tent on the Champs-Élysées. Great quote:

Human Rights Minister Rama Yade expressed disgust with the symbolism of the chosen date of International Human Rights Day. 'It would be indecent, in any case, that this visit be summed up with the signing of contracts,' she said in an interview published Monday in the daily Le Parisien.

Re:Profit! (5, Insightful)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949276)

I know your trying to take a shot, but to answer your question, yes. When did a company become responsible for governments using/misusing thier technology/product? Our own govt. (U.S.) uses Sun boxes and Cisco switches to monitor ME. Think the US government isn't using similar software/hardware to monitor dissidents (Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Neo Nazi, etc..). It's a snow job blaming big companies (which is all the rage today). It reminds me when global warming fired up, even the traffic reports changed: Before global warming debate: "Intoxicated man ran over a pedestrian." After: "Intoxicated driver's SUV ran over a pedestrian".

Re:Profit! (-1, Offtopic)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949352)

your trying

What about my trying? I don't have a trying.

Re:Profit! (2)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949478)

I'm just jealous of the people that do have a trying when 99% of us don't have a trying. Not fair.

Re:Profit! (2)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950316)

I had a trying marriage, does that count?

The fault there could have been the lack of my trying though. It was all very confusing.

Re:Profit! (3, Insightful)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949566)

I know your trying to take a shot, but to answer your question, yes. When did a company become responsible for governments using/misusing thier technology/product? Our own govt. (U.S.) uses Sun boxes and Cisco switches to monitor ME. Think the US government isn't using similar software/hardware to monitor dissidents (Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, Neo Nazi, etc..). It's a snow job blaming big companies (which is all the rage today). It reminds me when global warming fired up, even the traffic reports changed: Before global warming debate: "Intoxicated man ran over a pedestrian." After: "Intoxicated driver's SUV ran over a pedestrian".

You're an idiot. As a civil society with democratic norms we draw limits to commerce all of the time. For example, we don't allow people to sell human body parts because of the perverse incentives it would create. We could, if we wanted, limit sale of such technology to those countries that misuse it and punish those countries that don't follow suit. The fact is that we, as a society, don't really care that much. Oh, we talk about how horrible it is, but when it comes to hard decisions we always take the easy way out by spouting the kind of nonsense you just did. As far as America doing it too, so what? We are talking about Iran.

Re:Profit! Hello mods? (0)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949778)

Bingo. For crying out loud, someone please mod this up.

Re:Profit! (5, Interesting)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950198)

I'm an idiot because your arguing a different point (which i agree with oddly). My point is that it's not up to the individual business to decided who is nice enough to buy thier technology. If Nokia sold them equipment/technology that was against U.S. policy, then by all means, prosecute. Use your own examples, They are all illegal. What Nokia did was legal. I take issue with some business practices, but I'm also going to call bullshit when I see it. GE paid no taxes so GE=bad. Why? Did they follow all current tax laws? Yes? Did they get write downs for losing thier ass the year before (shh.. it's a secret), yes. Ask yourself, "Can Krogers decide to not sell food to Muslims?". In short, if you want something illegal, make it illegal. BTW, as the IDIOT of the group, can you point out, in any way the part of your post the refutes mine?

Re:Profit! (1)

roninmagus (721889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950656)

I signed in (something I do rarely these days) to say MOD THIS POST UP. If I knew how to, as I very rarely use slashdot comments, I would :)

Re:Profit! (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950788)

My point is that it's not up to the individual business to decided who is nice enough to buy thier technology.

It is up to every individual, whether they're a blue-collar working-class stiff, or CEO of a Fortune 500, to make ethical decisions.

Anyone who sold surveillance equipment to Iran knew they were making an unethical sale, but they simply didn't give a shit. Legality isn't ethics, so the defense that it was legal is just another way of saying that they don't give a shit about ethics or morals, they only care about any consequences they personally may face.

We try to make unethical business practices illegal, because we know the sociopaths running many corporations will not behave ethically willingly. Often this happens as a consequence of them engaging in unethical activity and using the "well it was legal" excuse.

Not everyone behaves ethically only to the extent that the law requires them to. Including CEOs. It is an individual choice to do so.

So sure, maybe selling this equipment to Iran was legal for the companies that did it. It was still unethical, it was still wrong, and I will not refrain from saying so.

The idea that because they can't be prosecuted for doing it, that therefore it wasn't unethical, or that it isn't their responsibility to be ethical, is the argument of amoral cads with no ethics to begin with.

Re:Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950516)

Really? In a position of influence, I would abolish such practices. However, that is literally why I cannot attain such a position - I always propose against it when faced with a platform. What else can I do?

Re:Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950288)

Western Executive: So, Iran, I hear you're interested in some of our products.

Iranian Government: Yes, we're very interested in how we can use this technology to fight disse--er ... crime? yeah, crime.

WE: Oh, yes, our products are indispensable when combating ... what sort of crimes did you say you were dealing with?

IG : Heinous and unforgivable acts like adultery, homosexuality, trafficking in alcohol, an not displaying blind unwavering obedience to the Supre-- I mean, kidnappers and baby rapists. We must crack down on these roving gangs of baby rapists at once!

WE: Yes, that seems like a very serious problem. In fact, you should probably go ahead and order the Express Package, that way you'll be crushing disse--catching these child-raping bastards even faster!

Both shake hands and cackle maniacally

If your company sells technology that does what this does, and you sell it to Iran, you are complicit. At this point in time, "Oh, we didn't know *that's* how they were going to use it!" just isn't a valid excuse.

Hog Wash (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949644)

In fact, we would be legally liable for failing our fiduciary duty to our shareholders

This is not strictly true, though it is often quoted from someplace, usually someoneâ(TM)s ass.

A company has the responsibility to do what is best for the stockholders. There is NO law requiring publically traded companies to pursue profit above all other considerations.

Re:Hog Wash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950386)

In fact, we would be legally liable for failing our fiduciary duty to our shareholders

This is not strictly true, though it is often quoted from someplace, usually someoneâ(TM)s ass.

A company has the responsibility to do what is best for the stockholders. There is NO law requiring publically traded companies to pursue profit above all other considerations.

Actually, stockholders HAVE sued a company they own stock for and HAVE won on just those grounds. Read "The Corporation" by Balkan.

Re:Hog Wash (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950626)

In fact, we would be legally liable for failing our fiduciary duty to our shareholders

This is not strictly true, though it is often quoted from someplace, usually someoneâ(TM)s ass.

A company has the responsibility to do what is best for the stockholders. There is NO law requiring publically traded companies to pursue profit above all other considerations.

And what's best for the stockholders is, almost always, increased profits. That's why the stockholders hold the stock, after all. Now, if you could show that an action would increase profits temporarily but prove disastrous in the long run then perhaps increasing profit would not be the fiduciarily responsible thing to do - but that is only because you are trading relatively minor short-term profit for (potentially) much greater long-term profits.

Re:Profit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949672)

Because freedom only means freedom to become as rich as you can, no matter who you hurt or what you destroy.

Wasn't this... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949108)

An Episode of Leverage?

Re:Wasn't this... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949152)

An Episode of Leverage?

That was my first thought.

I wonder if, like the episode, the whole system is running on some 80s-era desktop sitting in some guy's man cave.

This is totally inexcusable (2)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949110)

Now if we could just get our Western governments to stop using the same bullshit...

Re:This is totally inexcusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949234)

Probably the

web camera [hkcolordigital.com]

is included in the intelligence monitoring system. For those who sitting in front of a computer, the government can know what you are doing immediately.

Re:This is totally inexcusable (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949618)

Probably the

web camera [hkcolordigital.com]

is included in the intelligence monitoring system. For those who sitting in front of a computer, the government can know what you are doing immediately.

Nuts to that. Get a bunch of these [gopro.com]

As to the Iranian State, it's really a fake puppet democracy, power is in the Revolutionary Guards, who have ursurped pretty much everything in the country. The sham election as all the evidence anyone could need. There's no civil rights, not there ever were. Keep your head down, don't speak out and you might be able to get by. Speak out and it's curtains for you.

western companies tech sourced from china (0)

MichaelKristopeit501 (2018074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949136)

summary editor too lazy to work the story all the way through.

slashdot = stagnated

Yeah, and? (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949164)

Personally I'm more concerned about this tech being used to track people in Western nations.

Ethics (5, Insightful)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949176)

Let me just say: fuck Creativity Software and fuck any programmer willing to work for them. There's this thing called 'ethics' and if they choose to violate the most basic premises to enable people to do shit like this, the outcomes are also on *their* heads. None of this "just doing my job" bullshit.

--Jeremy

Re:Ethics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949264)

Let me just say: fuck Creativity Software and fuck any programmer willing to work for them. There's this thing called 'ethics' and if they choose to violate the most basic premises to enable people to do shit like this, the outcomes are also on *their* heads. None of this "just doing my job" bullshit.

This. Take it from someone who worked in a non-tech position at a previous job (hey, it was a recession). That job entailed unethical and somewhat illegal practices against consumers.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd live in a cardboard box!

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949348)

But, as it happened, you took the money grudgingly?

Re:Ethics (4, Insightful)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949892)

Probably. This is how oppression works. Not just simply by forcing people to do things--too labor intensive--but by stacking the deck against them so they feel they have no choice but to participate in the BS because they have to put food on the table. BS is institutionalized.

Re:Ethics (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950450)

Probably. This is how oppression works. Not just simply by forcing people to do things--too labor intensive--but by stacking the deck against them so they feel they have no choice but to participate in the BS because they have to put food on the table. BS is institutionalized.

Well said.

If people had less difficulty making sure their kids were fed, there would be a lot more people at OWS. Of course if people had less difficulty making sure their kids were fed, there would be no OWS.

A Catch-22 if ever I saw one.

Re:Ethics (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950798)

If people had less difficulty making sure their kids were fed, there would be a lot more people at OWS. Of course if people had less difficulty making sure their kids were fed, there would be no OWS.

I dunno if it is maybe the lack of a cohesive message or even goal that OWS is protesting....but it almost seems to me, that while some are protesting the bailouts of the corporations....many of the young are wanting their own bailouts from college loans they willing signed onto, or more govt. handouts to redistribute wealth earned by others.

Maybe if there was a more united singular message, I'd get it...but from what I'm seeing on TV and reading....they mostly seem to be wanting a bailout/handout, rather than doing something entrepreneurial and making their own fortune in this world.

Re:Ethics (1)

MichaelKristopeit501 (2018074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949378)

you do have it all to do over again... give the money back to a consumer protection agency.

oh, right... you were just making baseless promises to justify your unethical behavior to yourself.

why do you cower? what are you afraid of?

you're completely pathetic.

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949374)

The problem is, development doesn't always know what sales is doing, they may not even know who many of the clients are. All this tracking technology, from a development point of view, has ethical uses as well. From logistics and asset tracking, think trucking and high-risk high-value transport, to tracking pets. It's all well and good to look back on it now but at the time I really doubt many of them knew anything more than "Oh, this might be used by the cops at some point". It's situations like this where it can be hard to ensure you don't inadvertently go against your Code of Ethics, but when kept in the dark and feed bullshit like mushrooms, what can you pro actively do to avoid this? Avoid working on all technologies that could be potentially abused? That's covers pretty much everything unfortunately.

Re:Ethics (1)

Frenzied Apathy (2473340) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949412)

I am in total agreement with your outrage about unethical business dealings, but I have to wonder how many people, working in a good-paying position at such a company, would actually quit their job if they knew said company was involved in immoral or unethical business practices. Some, probably, but I have no doubt that many would turn a blind eye and sleep quite well at night.

Re:Ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950366)

Jeremy Scott, what you wrote is utter garbage.

1. Companies follow laws, like almost everyone else (there are *some* entities that do not follow laws, yet are sponsored by governments)
2. Companies' only duty is to make money for the shareholders within the boundaries of the law
3. If you don't like tracking software like this, then maybe you should have a problem with the policies of your country, not some individual company.

It is the *politicians* and eventually *you* that decide if something is legal or not legal. It is illegal for Nortrop to sell munitions to Iran, so they do not. It is legal for Nokia or Creative to sell software into Iran, so they do and make money. Isn't that simple?

How about asking the question whether such software is ethical at all. Why is it OK for you if the US or Germany or UK is tracking virtually all individuals in the name of "terrorism" or "protecting freedom", but it is not OK for Iran to track people it views as dangerous???

Fuck you and your idiotically narrow world view.

Re:Ethics (1)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950776)

It would be quite interesting to see a list of employees of said company. I think some public shaming of the individuals involved might focus some minds wonderfully, from the boardroom downwards.

Canada's PM wants similar monitoring capabilities. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949204)

Without court oversight. But, oh no, it won't be abused. Ya right. This is the man who claimed he wanted the Canadian government not to be able to call premature elections... then promptly did so himself to try to get a majority.

Anti-Iran sentiment (-1, Troll)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949208)

Hmm - seems Iran is going to be the new enemy of choice for the USA.
Keep drumming up that anti-iran sentiment so that the US has enough momentum in the populace to justify bombing them next year.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (0)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949256)

I blame Battlefield 3 - It's all a plot by Sweden, actually. They are manipulating us via amazing video games.
Hold on, I just dropped my tinfoil hat.... erm... actually, Sweden is amazing and totally innocent, and DICE is the best studio in the whole universe. EA is even better. Iran has a really fair government that clearly loves their people, and everyone should trust the Federal reserve, they're heart is in the right place.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949298)

they're heart is in the right place.

They are heart is in the right place? What does that mean?

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949386)

Thanks, my pedantic friend. I award you 3 internets for catching my lackadaisical usage of grammar and relying to heavily on Chromium's spellcheck.

I announce the world, in apology, that I should have used "their" to indicate possession, not the ugly mistake of a misplaced homophone.

I hid a similar error in the second sentence of this apology, mostly for your schadenfreude. It's the least I can do.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949432)

Thanks, my pedantic friend. I award you 3 internets for catching my lackadaisical usage of grammar and relying to heavily on Chromium's spellcheck.

That's what you get for using Chromium instead of Internet Explorer, you unwashed hippy.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949456)

I think it means you lack the flexibility to interpret language in practice.

What, are you a computer? Deal with it, it wasn't hard to understand the intended meaning from context.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950552)

I think it means you lack the flexibility to interpret language in practice.

What, are you a computer? Deal with it, it wasn't hard to understand the intended meaning from context.

No it isn't hard. It is annoying to have to do a double take when the meaning is obfuscated by illiteracy.

The easiest thing to do is to just skip it, and move on to something written in English. The hard thing to do is to let people know that their literacy has been found wanting, because they probably don't care.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950810)

Yea, a missing or extraneous punctuation mark makes that so hard. It's not like he dropped any letters or words...

If this was paper, youd (see what I did there?) be screwed if printing was even slightly off or damaged.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (0)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950926)

No actually it was the difference between "they're" and "their".

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (2)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949428)

You're praising EA?!?!? Did a brain slug land on your head right after your tin foil hat fell off?

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949754)

I know, that might have been the most flagrant remark, following closely behind the idea of trusting the Fed... :P

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950166)

WOOOOOOOSH!!!

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950492)

Ahem, the joke is that simply losing one's tin foil hat is not enough to say good things about EA and that something much more extreme(like a brain slug) would be needed to even think of such a thing.

"WOOOOOOOSH" indeed.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949438)

Then you didn't actually play BF3 did you?

SPOILER: A renegade was manipulating everyone, and the only reason Russia is involved is because they want to get their nukes back before anyone realizes they lost them to begin with.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950706)

Then you didn't actually play BF3 did you?

SPOILER: A renegade was manipulating everyone, and the only reason Russia is involved is because they want to get their nukes back before anyone realizes they lost them to begin with.

That doesn't sound like the Battlefield 3 I know. The only renegade I'm familiar with is that ass that just blew up the jeep I was trying to hop into with our base AA.

Oh, I see. You must have made the mistake of clicking on "Campaign." That's actually just there as punishment for anyone unfamiliar with the Battlefield series - it isn't actually meant to be, you know, played.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950794)

Or right. In which case one side is the US and the other is Russia.

What does this have to do with the Middle East again?

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (3, Interesting)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949492)

Your post is a bit incoherent - are you trying to accuse me of being paranoid?

Here's some reading for you.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/uk-military-iran-attack-nuclear [guardian.co.uk]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/03/iran-nuclear-ambitions-secret-war [guardian.co.uk]

Come back when you have a clearer picture of your country's current political strategy.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (1)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949574)

I'll just add a quick quote in case you don't want to click one of those links:

Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (2)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949604)

Oh, I think I have a really clear picture of my countries' political strategy. Coinsidering I'm stuck with it, and no candidate I vote for makes a difference, and I am forced to pay into it (our military spending is 2 magnitudes bigger than what we spend on education), it's somewhat depressing to think about. Occasionally, I intentionally try to blind myself by making levity of the situation because it is truly depressing.
My comment was meant as a goofy side note, I don't want to water down your message - more power to you.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949830)

HAD to find a way to pin this on us, huh? Never mind that our companies couldn't sell the tech Iran is using because of the gazillion embargoes we have on them... The U.S. is SOMEHOW the evil, manipulating on here... Things have been bad between us and Iran since before I was born and we haven't glassed them yet. Besides, you say that like Iran isn't ACTUALLY an oppressive country.

Honestly, I think the article does more to damage the reputations of the European companies mentioned. Western countries in general (the US included) are pretty bad with the whole tracking thing anymore. Still, when you add in activists being terrorized by dictators using the tech the West made to make money (ignoring the fact that dangerous governments could use it to this effect), well... I know of people who still haven't forgiven IBM or Bayer for their involvement with the Nazis way back in the day. I guess individuals within the company might actually regret the harm their product caused but I think we've all figured out by now that companies, themselves, lack the ability to feel sympathy or regret.

Besides, taking out the Iranian government would have made more sense than doing what we did to Iraq. The Iranian citizens have shown a far greater desire for revolution/democracy/etc than the Iraqis did.

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (0)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950710)

... I think we've all figured out by now that companies, themselves, lack the ability to feel sympathy or regret. ...

That's right, they have the morals of a psychotic, i.e. none.

And you have given them personhood, and now they (the psychotics) own your country. They have given themselves all the rights and have taken/are taking, yours away. What do you expect when you hand over the helm to a bunch of psychos? (Oh yeah, trickle down economics, sure, that works.)

Re:Anti-Iran sentiment (3, Interesting)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950870)

Nobody, except the sickest, craziest Zionists and right-wing Republicans -- is that stupid. Like the Burmese junta, the mad mullahs of Tehran are a hydra-headed beast; cutting off a few heads won't destroy the beast. With this lot, change clearly has to come from within.

Or should I say, their system needs a few decades to rot from within; their ideological rigidity and zeal will ensure that they won't be able to adapt to circumstances, and they'll eventually be blown away by the winds of change before they even know what hit them.

So what, if these monkeys get nukes? If they ever dare to use them, they'll be obliterated, and they know it. Even animals have survival instincts. Why not just LET them waste the money and resources building useless weapons. A dollar spent building a centrifuge, is a dollar not spent on far more threatening conventional arms, or terror operations.

All we have to do is sit back, play the long game, and wait.

What's the solution, then? (5, Insightful)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949214)

FYI - I couldn't be more against despotic regimes, I don't fly because of the TSA... I'm not an apologist.
I do; however, have the same question anytime this article runs on Slashdot (Bluecoat /Syria was before this one)
If you are Ericcson/Cisco/Bluecoat/Juniper/etc, how do you ensure your tech never ends up being used for "evil"?
Who is evil? Should network filtering equipment be declared munitions and its export controlled? Should they include a killswitch so if it gets in the hands of an evil dictator it can be disabled? Should Nokia do background checks on all potential buyers to try to predict whether or not they are straw purchasers for evil entities?

Both of those ideas some either really far fetched, impractical, or inethical in themselves... so my question is - if you feel a hatin' rising up after reading this about Ericcson/Nokia - what should they do?

Re:What's the solution, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949364)

Hard to do, when the same tech will ultimately be used in the "good" countries as well. Where does one draw the line?

No different than the use of RPVs and semi-autonomous systems. Sure, we here in the Land of the Good (the US, western Europe) are happy to see the tech used on our "enemies". But at some point, those enemies will be beaten down. This tech we're ramping up now will get to a point where it's not being fully utilized (supply will exceed demand). People in perceived positions of power and authority see new tools to help them "do more with less", or "we paid for it, we need to use it"... And they'll be turned against us as well.

Gotta protect the Homeland against those pesky pinko communist faggo homeless squatters aka OWS and show them who really is boss...

Guns don't kill people (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949546)

Isn't that the line we can always use? The same thing should apply here. Minus the 7-day wait period, of course.

Re:What's the solution, then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949924)

>>If you are Ericcson/Cisco/Bluecoat/Juniper/etc, how do you ensure your tech never ends up being used for "evil"?

Shot in the dark here, but for starters, maybe don't directly market, customize and sell it to oppressive governments?

Re:What's the solution, then? (1)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950642)

Did they do so? I'm of the impression Bluecoat hardware was sold through an intermediary in Dubai.
To quote TFA
"marketed or provided gear over the past two years that Iran’s law enforcement or state security agencies would have access to,"
That's pretty vague. Do you know that they sold directly to Iran?
I think I hate biased or incorrect media about as much as censorship.

Why produce such software? (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950364)

Should they include a killswitch so if it gets in the hands of an evil dictator it can be disabled?

Why not? It would strongly discourage the act. Who cares if you lose sales from it? It surely isn't significant. Then again, why even produce such software? In what case is it appropriate, and in which legitimate case is there no alternate means of achieving the desired goal?

Let's Track the Companies (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949240)

Why not turn the tables? I'd love to see a website that tracks the companies that help violate human rights. I'd also like to see it tied to products. In the market for a cell phone? Find out if the maker of your cell phone helps Iran oppress its own people. Or maybe a badge system maintained by Amnesty International, where the badge is displayed if there are no violations, and revoked when something like this comes to light... Let's track the companies that track citizens, and make it easier to put some economic pressure on them.

Re:Let's Track the Companies (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949304)

It would be easier to track companies that don't. Much shorter list.

Re:Let's Track the Companies (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950512)

That is a good point.

Re:Let's Track the Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949544)

Everybody has a different set of ethics. We need a website where you can fill in what you have troubles with and then personalizes its ethics recommendations. I want to boycott folks who track dissidents, my neighbor may want to boycott companies who hand out free powder milk for babies in Africa. [wikipedia.org]

It would be profitable, after all the website can sell your ethical preferences to the government (or whoever is the highest bidder).

Re:Let's Track the Companies (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949710)

Why not turn the tables? I'd love to see a website that tracks the companies that help violate human rights.

Julian Assange called...

Re:Let's Track the Companies (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950560)

Not leak info from the companies, but provide a list for consumers so they can actively avoid these companies. Different things.

Re:Let's Track the Companies (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950580)

What counts as "Helps violate human rights?"
Is not being tracked a human right? What about 911 calls on cells where they can find the location of the call to send help?
What about Microsoft? I bet those systems run windows.
Maybe the GNU project if they use Linux and or GCC to write the code?
Maybe Asus or Foxconn for making the motherboards that the code runs on?
Maybe Intel and AMD for making the chips that the code runs one?
Or Seagate for making the hardrives that they use to store the data?
Or ........
How involved must it be? Hey I am not supporting Irans actions or these European companies that seems to support and profit by them, but if you are going to want to set yourself up as judge or anyone else you better have some clear rules. When one is a tool maker you must live with the fact that sometimes people will use tools in ways you do not want them too.

Terrorists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949246)

Change the word "Dissidents" to "Terrorists" and this would be a good story.

Re:Terrorists (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949392)

From the article: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) places the blame on these European companies for the alligator clips being applied to dissidents, which is a bad thing. But if, instead of dissidents, the alligator clips were being applied to terrorists in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan, well then that would be a good thing I guess, and Sen. Kirk would be giving the credit instead of placing the blame.

Blaming the gun shop? (5, Informative)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949260)

Didn't past articles say they were smuggled into Iran by Dubai-based buyers?
I guess we can have a debate about how many degrees of separation is needed for effective export restrictions, but I don't know how we can ever draw the lines to be reasonable.

IBM did the same thing in WWII (4, Informative)

Kagato (116051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37949504)

Back in WWII IBM's Brazilian division kept working with and suppling IBM's German division. The IBM's Hollerith punch card system was updated to be the workflow system for the holocaust. According to the author of the book IBM and the Holocaust when IBM USA found out IBM Brazil was still working with German division their response was a request no longer to be told of the activities. At the same time IBM was one of the few companies that knew when the D-Day invasion would be as it was actively using computer power to predict the best weather for the invasion.

This is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37949534)

Why should this come as a surprise to anyone?

US isn't monitoring anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950026)

Only countries that US and Israel deem adversaries are monitoring people and infringing on civil liberties. That's right, Echelon doesn't exist and people that US is monitoring are either terrorists, either software pirates, either pedophiles.

this just in! (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950088)

western corporations are completely amoral entities designed to generate obscene amounts of money
and would, if not thoroughly regulated by the united states government, export everything from toothpicks to
nuclear ICBMs to foreign countries just to turn a profit.

dont like it? use open source. at least then you didnt help finance the company that thinks its ok for despots and tyrants
to oppress their people, and you're part of something that helps liberate them.

Anyone using them is the problem. (1)

krelvin (771644) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950376)

The fact the tools exist is the issue, not necessarily who is using them. right?

If the US is using the same tool as Iran... it is really the same issue unless you are going to believe that the US is only going to use it correctly.

Open Source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950748)

Many oppressive regimes use open source to do the same as well. Does the slashdot community care about that?

bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950828)

Bet they used the Internet as well to perpetuate these crimes.

So silly. (1)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37950856)

It's so silly to condemn tech companies for doing business with "Bad Guys." It's not our (US citizens) job to be world police, and part of that means we don't get to decide who's a big bad government and who's all good (I.E. it's stupid to say any non-white/non-christian-based/non-democratic government is evil). One mans political dissident is another man's terrorist. Sure in some cases it's pretty clear cut (humorist writes funny cartoon about scary dictator who wears funny hat and gets thrown in the slammer), but in others, not so much, and it's not our place to decide. Either we should disallow all foreign sales of arms/surveillance tech/etc or permit it to every country. My preference would be to disallow, since selling things like that merely empowers rich people the world over to screw poor people, but either way, I think neutrality is more important.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>