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Why have you published this Q&A?
NSN continues to receive inquiries about press reports concerning interception of communications in Iran, and we want to take this opportunity to address them.
What intercept capability exists in Iran?
Like mobile networks in virtually every country, networks deployed in Iran are required to incorporate a passive capability that allows law enforcement agencies to intercept phone calls and text messages. This is a requirement in the European Union, the United States, and most other countries, and parallels a similar requirement for landlines that has existed for decades.
NSN and other companies have delivered mobile networks to Iran over a period of years, long before the recent political developments.
NSN has also provided a limited monitoring facility enabling law enforcement offices to use the passive intercept capability of the network. The facility was delivered to Iran in 2008.
Can the center monitor all communications on the mobile network?
This facility has limited monitoring capabilities, similar to those used by law enforcement in many countries, for predefined phone numbers only. It does not allow the scanning of network traffic in order to discover or identify users based on the content of their transmissions.
Does NSN still sell and support this capability in Iran or elsewhere?
During the course of 2008, NSN moved to divest the monitoring center business, and closed the divestiture in March 2009.
The company provides no support or services to the facility in Iran, has no employees working with Iranian law enforcement, and no longer provides monitoring capabilities beyond the legally required passive capability anywhere in the world.
Do you provide the capability for Internet and email monitoring or deep packet inspection of people's communications?
Contrary to some press reports, the mobile networks NSN provided have no capability for surveillance or censorship or so-called 'deep packet inspection' of emails or other Internet traffic. Moreover, almost all Internet traffic in Iran is carried on fixed, not mobile, networks.
Does NSN condemn the reported misuse of the monitoring capability?
We are, of course, aware of reports from Iran, and condemn any abuse of communication technologies that may have taken place. We strongly believe that mobile networks have enhanced individuals' lives, promote transparency, and empower citizens with effective means of feedback. In Iran they clearly have played a pivotal role in their ability to communicate, organize, and share their story with the outside world.
NSN maintains a stringent Code of Conduct and compliance mechanism, and scrupulously adheres to all applicable export controls, laws and regulations.