China based telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies said today that it would voluntarily curb its business efforts in Iran, citing an increasingly complex situation in the country.
In a statement, the company said it would no longer seek new customers, and that it would limit its business activities with existing customers.
Huawei said it would continue to provide necessary services to ensure communications for Iran’s citizens.
The move appears to be in response to the Iranian government’s increased efforts to spy on its citizens using technology from various vendors, after a bloody clash broke out between authorities and anti-government protesters following the 2009 Iranian presidential election.
As SecurityWeek columnist Alan Wlasuk notes, “It is Iran’s desire to spy on its population’s electronic communication as the real reason for the breaches at Comodo and DigiNotar. Many protesters in the Middle East, including dissenters in Iran and throughout the Middle East, trusted the Google, Yahoo, Skype and Hotmail websites, resulting in Iran’s ability to read every email sent over these sites. It is believed that as many as 300,000 Iranians may have had their online communications tapped into as a result Comodo’s and DigiNotar’s falsified SSL certificates.”
Huawei provides telecommunications equipment for commercial and civilian use around the world and has established an industry-standard trade compliance system and internal control policies for exports to ensure legal application of our products and technologies.
In October, it was reported that Huawei was blocked from participating in a U.S. government bid to build a national wireless network for first responders, citing national security concerns as the reason. A Pentagon report on the Chinese military singled out Huawei as a company that maintains “close ties” to the People’s Liberation Army. Huawei responded, saying the concerns “have never been substantiated,” and that due to its heritage in China, its business activities in the U.S. have been repeatedly and unfairly challenged due to vague supposed security concerns.
Just last month, Symantec announced that it would sell its 49% stake in Huawei Symantec Technologies, a Hong Kong-based joint venture established by Huawei and Symantec in 2008.
“It’s no secret that many states and nations are censoring and monitoring the Internet. Many of these governments are considered authoritarian regimes, often times with trade restrictions and other sanctions against them,” Oliver Rochford noted in a recent SecurityWeek column. “The intent, morality and effectiveness aside, it should be obvious to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with the topic, that most of these censorship programs will be based on proprietary, enterprise hardware and solutions.”
Huawei’s maintains that its business in Iran has been in “full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations including those of the UN, US and EU.”
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