MTN mum on Iran operations

Political turmoil in Iran – which started after the disputed elections showed that current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won by a landslide – continues to dominate world news.

While political protests are continuing in Iran, the country’s decision to monitor communications and filter the Internet is sparking worldwide condemnation.  According to media reports the Iranian Government are limiting Internet access in the country and are filtering content like BBC news websites.

Online services like Twitter and email are however still used by the media to gather information and report on the situation in the country, and Google and Facebook announced that they are making it easier for Iranians to “communicate directly” to the world.  

This and other forms of communication may be under thread though.  The BBC now reports that Nokia Siemens Network has supplied Iran with the technology needed to monitor, control, and read local telephone calls.

“The product allows authorities to monitor any communications across a network, including voice calls, text messaging, instant messages, and web traffic,” the BBC article says.

This raises questions as to the operations of local telecoms giant MTN in Iran.  MTN is a 49% shareholder if MTN Irancell which currently serves over 16 million Iranians and has network coverage of over 62% of the country.

MTN would however not comment on whether its mobile Internet or voice operations have been influenced by the political turmoil in Iraq.  The company also declined to comment on whether it has placed any limitations on its Iranian cellular services like Internet access.

It is also unclear whether MTN is allowing the Iranian government to intercept and monitor calls, SMSs and Internet traffic on its network.

MTN did not give any reasons as to why it would not comment on its operations in Iran, simply saying in a statement that “The MTN Group cannot comment at this stage.”

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MTN mum on Iran operations