Has ZTE Facilitated E-Surveillance In Iran?

Human rights protection in cyberspace is an area that requires urgent attention of United Nations and international community. The way national governments are engaging in illegal and unconstitutional e-surveillance, civil liberties in cyberspace are in great danger.

Further, cyber security concerns of telecom equipments have also put forward their own unique questions. Although we have no applicable telecom equipments security framework of India yet Indian government has shown great concerns regarding telecom security. Indian government has also announced that telecom equipments must be certified by TEC in India before use. This is the reason why telecom equipment providers like Huawei and ZTE were trapped in telecom security tangle of India.

Now ZTE has been facing accusations of selling powerful e-surveillance systems to Iran that are capable of monitoring telephone and Internet communications. Reacting sharply to these accusations, ZTE has announced that it will curtail its business in Iran. It has also been reported that despite a longtime U.S. sales ban on tech products to Iran, ZTE’s “Packing List” for the contract, dated July 24, 2011, included numerous American hardware and software products.

India is also planning to install a similar e-surveillance system known as central monitoring system of India that can achieve similar results. India has also announced to establish an Indian national cyber coordination centre (NCCC). However, while doing so the big brother in India must not exceed its limits. Such initiatives can strengthen national security only if civil liberties and procedural safeguards aspects are taken care of. India’s telecom security policy is needed to legally manage the human rights and civil liberty issues.

As far as foreign telecom equipment providers like Huawei and ZTE are concerned, they must keep their business very clean and far from suspicion. Issues like e-surveillance, backdoor allegations, etc must be avoided to retain a stake in Indian market.