Special Report: Chinese firm helps Iran spy on citizens
Steve Stecklow – Reuters March 22, 2012
A Chinese telecommunications equipment company has sold Iran‘s largest telecom firm a powerful surveillance system capable of monitoring landline, mobile and internet communications, interviews and contract documents show.
The system was part of a 98.6 million euro ($130.6 million) contract for networking equipment supplied by Shenzhen, China-based ZTE Corp to the Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), according to the documents. Government-controlled TCI has a near monopoly on Iran’s landline telephone services and much of Iran’s internet traffic is required to flow through its network.
The ZTE-TCI deal, signed in December 2010, illustrates how despite tightening global sanctions, Iran still manages to obtain sophisticated technology, including systems that can be used to crack down on dissidents.
Comment – March 23, 2012
Note that the above report doesn’t say that equipment sold is being used to spy on Iranians, simply that it could be used to spy. Equally it could also be used for counter-espionage, or any number of other uses some of which could be perfectly innocuous.
The implication is however, that those evil Iranians will use the technology to monitor Iranian dissidents. The article provides no evidence to substantiate this but then it doesn’t have to. It merely implies as much.
Meanwhile, new measures allowing the U.S. government more power in the surveillance of its own citizens and giving the National Counter-terrorism Center new privacy busting power are ignored. It’s left to the alternative media to report on that…
Steve Watson – Prison Planet March 23, 2012
New guidelines put forth by the Obama administration will allow US spy agencies to keep records on innocent Americans without oversight for up to five years.
As the AP reports , previously the National Counterterrorism Center, was legally obliged to immediately destroy information that it gathered about American citizens if it found no clear links to terrorism.
Following the 2009 Christmas day underpants bomber debacle, US representatives immediately called for the NCTC’s authority to be expanded, saying that there was not enough communication between intelligence agencies.
“Following the failed terrorist attack in December 2009, representatives of the counter-terrorism community concluded it is vital for NCTC to be provided with a variety of data sets from various agencies that contain terrorism information,” National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper Jr. said in a statement late Thursday.
“The ability to search against these data sets for up to five years on a continuing basis as these updated guidelines permit will enable NCTC to accomplish its mission more practically and effectively.”
The NCTC, made up of a combination of intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, was created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and has drawn criticism ever since for infringement on the Fourth Amendment and basic privacy rights.
“It is a vast expansion of the government’s surveillance authority,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center said of the new guidelines.
Noting that the new rules contravene the Federal Privacy Act, Rotenberg added “The fact that this data can be retained for five years on U.S. citizens for whom there’s no evidence of criminal conduct is very disturbing.”
An Obama administration official said that privacy will be safeguarded because there are strict measures in place to ensure that any intelligence gathered on American citizens “is likely to contain significant terrorism information.”
However, given that the Department of Homeland Security now considers banal bodily activities  such as yawning, staring and goose pumps as “suspicious activity” indicative of terrorism, those assurances are unlikely to appease concerned Americans.
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net , and Prisonplanet.com . He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.