The mobile phone company Nokia is being hit by a growing economic boycott in Iran as consumers sympathetic to the post-election protest movement begin targeting a string of companies deemed to be collaborating with the regime.
Wholesale vendors in the capital report that demand for Nokia handsets has fallen by as much as half in the wake of calls to boycott Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for selling communications monitoring systems to Iran.
There are signs that the boycott is spreading: consumers are shunning SMS messaging in protest at the perceived complicity with the regime by the state telecoms company, TCI. Iran’s state-run broadcaster has been hit by a collapse in advertising as companies fear being blacklisted in a Facebook petition. There is also anecdotal evidence that people are moving money out of state banks and into private banks.
The Iranian authorities are believed to have used Nokia’s mobile phone monitoring system to target dissidents. Released prisoners have revealed that the authorities were keeping them in custody on the basis of their SMS and phone calls archive, which was at officials’ disposal.
One Iranian journalist who has just been released from detention said: “I always had this impression that monitoring calls is just a rumour for threatening us from continuing our job properly, but the nightmare became real when they had my phone calls – conversations in my case.
“And the most unbelievable thing for me is that Nokia sold this system to our government. It would be a reasonable excuse for Nokia if they had sold the monitoring technology to a democratic country for controlling child abuse or other uses, but selling it to the Iranian government with a very clear background of human rights violence and suppression of dissent, it’s just inexcusable for me. I’d like to tell Nokia that I’m tortured because they had sold this damn technology to our government.”
(Belated hat tip: A.A.)