The Lives Of Others

nokiaReading this excellent CiF article on contemporary Iranian art, I notice that much of the posted examples involve plays on the Nokia Siemens Networks communications company’s logos and marketing strategies in the classic No Logo era ‘subvertisement’ style.

Here’s why. Nokia Siemens recently opened a network in Iran. Naturally, the regime has been using this to track and target dissidents. Released prisoners claim that they’ve been incarcerated on the basis of phone and text archive. Protestors also say that the deal could have been done without this monitoring function. 

This is an Iranian reporter who has just been released from prison:

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.

Nokia Siemens is just one victim of an encouraging grassroots boycott. Iranians are boycotting various businesses connected to the regime, from state banks to products advertised on Press TV. As for Nokia itself, a Tehran mobile phone seller told the Guardian that: ‘there is half the demand for Nokia’s product these days in comparison with just one month ago, and it’s really unprecedented. People feel ashamed of having Nokia cellphones’.

I’m wondering if the same people so keen about boycotting goods made in democratic countries will invest the same amount of time and energy into campaigning for the boycott of a corporation that sells surveillance technologies to a theocratic dictatorship.

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