FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 12, 2012
Contact: Nathan Carleton, [email protected]
Phone: (212) 554-3296
UANI Calls on Creativity Software to Stop Selling Technology to Iran That Facilitates Oppression, Cut Ties to MTN
New York, NY - On Tuesday, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) called on the British telecommunications firm Creativity Software to end its business with Iran and cut its ties to MTN Irancell.
Creativity has done business in Iran through a partnership with the regime-controlled MTN Irancell, a firm known to illegally monitor and track Iranian citizens. In 2011, Creativity reportedly sold MTN Irancell a location-tracking system that can track a target's movement every 15 seconds and plot the locations on a map.
UANI contacted Creativity on April 13, 2012, outlining its concerns and asking Creativity to "end its business activities in Iran, particularly in light of the fact that technology provided by Creativity is being used to perpetrate terrible crimes against the people of Iran."
In response, Creativity stated to UANI that it "opposes any form of repression," yet will continue to do business in Iran. Said Creativity CEO Richard Lee: "Any connection implied between technology supplied by CS and any alleged human rights abuses in Iran is erroneous."
UANI is wholly unsatisfied with Mr. Lee's response, given the regime's known and ongoing history of misusing Western technology to violate the rights of its citizens. In a June 11 letter to Mr. Lee, UANI President, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, wrote:
First of all, UANI disagrees with Creativity's assertion that "any connection implied between technology supplied by CS and any alleged human rights abuses in Iran is erroneous." On the contrary, the connection between Creativity's business activities and human rights abuses in Iran is evident. As discussed in UANI's previous letter, Creativity was selected by MTN Irancell to provide "end-to-end" Location Based Services ("LBS") in Iran. ... In addition, Creativity reportedly provided Iranian law enforcement agencies with Lawful Intercept ("LI") capabilities through its partnership with MTN Irancell. LI is the process by which law enforcement agencies conduct electronic surveillance of public and private communication channels. Due to the high potential for abuse,countries around the world are drafting and enacting laws to regulate LI procedures and limit LI to instances of severe criminal activity.
Creativity's partner in Iran and the recipient of this technology, MTN Irancell, is 51% owned by the Iranian regime. More specifically, MTN Irancell is owned by Iran Electronics Industries (IEI), an entity sanction-designated by the U.S. and EU as "engaged in proliferation activities and their support networks," and the Mostazafan Foundation of Islamic Revolution ("Mostazafan"), a "Bonyad" organization directly supervised by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Both IEI and Mostazafan are closely linked to the regime's radical Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ("IRGC"), which serves as caretaker of Iran's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and is the key instrument used to suppress Iran's internal pro-democracy movement.
The misuse of technology by the Iranian regime and the IRGC to track, monitor and detain Iranian citizens is well documented by the media. For instance, the misuse of LBS is widespread, as an Iranian citizen reported in late 2011: "[T]hey can find exactly where you are. You don't even have to be on the phone, they can simply track you down just through your mobile phone when it is lying on a coffee table." ... In light of the foregoing, Creativity's statement that "we have sold and deployed commercial services with MTN Irancell and nothing more" shirks accountability for the high potential of those commercial services to be used by the regime to commit serious human rights abuses.
UANI also rejects Creativity's assertion that Creativity "...has acted at all times in an ethical and entirely lawful capacity." First, as noted above, the provision of technology and equipment that facilitates the Iranian regime's ongoing and brutal repression of the Iranian people cannot be described as "ethical." Second, The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010 ("CISADA") and the recently passed Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012, require the U.S. to ban the "procurement of goods or services with a person that exports sensitive technology" to Iran ...
As part of its "Tech and Telecom Campaign," UANI has succeeded in curtailing the business of international telecom giants such as AdaptiveMobile, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks and ZTE in Iran. UANI launched the campaign in 2011 to highlight the practices of international firms that provide the Iranian regime with sensitive technology and telecommunications equipment that the regime uses to facilitate its suppression of Iranian citizens.
UANI has since January been highlighting MTN's partnership with the Iranian regime, and its work to help the regime track and monitor dissidents. MTN Irancell is the second-largest mobile phone network operator in Iran, and the majority of its shares are owned by the Iranian regime.
MTN has carried out orders from the regime to shut off text messaging and Skype during times of political protest, and reportedly has a floor in its Tehran headquarters controlled by Iranian security officials.
UANI has requested a response from Creativity by June 18, 2012.