The tremendous outpouring of support in the first 24 hours for Access’ No to Nokia campaign from people in over thirty countries on six continents, has prompted a puzzling response from Nokia Siemens, raising new and more fundamental questions about Nokia’s relationship with totalitarianism.
In particular, petitioners are now asking Nokia Siemens why it is doing business with Iran at all, particularly given that Iran’s telecommunications infrastructure is majority owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards — the very same group that is responsible for suppressing and killing countless Iranian civilians following last year’s election.
Furthermore, on its Corporate Responsibility Statement on Privacy and Human Rights, Nokia Siemens states that despite having divested the unit that sold surveillance technology to Iran, it continues to have “technical contractual links” with its old business. When asked by Forbes’ Andy Greenberg what these “contractual links” are, Nokia Siemen’s Head of Media Relations, Ben Roome, responded that Nokia Siemens’ only connection to its old human tracking business is referring former customers to Trovicor, the private and unaccountable company that Nokia Siemens integrated in 2007 and then sold to the holding company Perusa Partners Fund in March of last year.
“According to reports that Access has received from Iran, Trovicor is now providing the same services to Iran that Nokia Siemens once did. Indeed we’re told many in the Iranian government believe that it is still doing business with Nokia Siemens,” said Access Executive Director Brett Solomon.
“Trovicor even has the same staff,” Solomon argues. Johann Preinsberger, for example, formerly the Head of Worldwide Sales for Nokia Siemens now serves as Trovicor’s managing director and CEO, along with at least three other top executives who transitioned between the companies. Roome’s unconvincing response: “When you set up part of your business, one of the major assets you’re selling is the people who run that business”
Access asks Nokia Siemens to provide answers to the following additional questions:
- How much did Nokia Siemens sell its Intelligence Solutions unit for?
- Where did that money go? Has money from the sale of the Intelligence Solutions unit gone into Nokia Siemens dividends, and, if so, are Nokia Siemens shareholders aware and comfortable that they are profiting from the sales of a business unit with such significant human rights implications?
- More broadly, Nokia Siemens profits are based on the facilitation of freedom of expression. Are your shareholders aware that profit has been made from the sale of technology that limits that freedom?
- Would Nokia Siemens consider transferring the proceeds from the sale of the Intelligence Solutions unit into a fund for human rights defense and/or freedom of political expression?
- In the Nokia Corporate Responsibility Statement on Human Rights and Privacy Nokia states, “we are aware of the potential for abuse [of our technology] and carefully evaluate business in countries which do not have a track record of respecting human rights.” What are the criteria for evaluation of sales to countries with poor human rights records? Who is involved in this evaluation? And why won’t Nokia Siemens just commit to ending all sales to countries with poor human rights records?
- When Nokia Siemens still formally sold the Monitoring Center technology, what other countries besides Iran did you sell this technology to?
- What due diligence is Nokia Siemens undertaking or has undertaken to ensure that its technology has not been used to propagate human rights abuse in any of the other 59 countries where its Monitoring Center technology has been sold?
- At what point does Nokia Siemens believe that it is no longer responsible, legally or otherwise, for the technology that it has created?
- What is the precise relationship between Trovicor and Nokia Siemens?
- Can Nokia Siemens confirm Head of Media Relations Ben Roome’s statement to Forbes that its “contractual links” to Trovicor deal only with referring former customers to Trovicor who haven’t recognized that Nokia Siemens no longer supports their old products?
- If Nokia Siemens is concerned about human rights abuses, why is it referring people to a company that actively facilitates such abuses?
- And finally, would the head of Nokia Siemens and/or Trovicor be willing to have a one-on-one sit down with Mehdi Saharkhiz, the son of the jailed Iranian journalist who was tracked down with Nokia Siemens technology and then imprisoned?