Saturday

25th Nov 2017

EU targets Iran's Internet snoops

EU countries have banned the sale of Internet-snooping technology to Iran and blacklisted the country's top cyber-censors, while adding a fresh loophole to its oil embargo.

Under the new law - which entered into force on Saturday (24 March) - the sale of "equipment, technology or software which may be used for the monitoring or inter­ception of Internet or telephone communications" and provision of related services is off-limits.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • The 2009 events were part-organised using Twitter and broadcast to the world by average people using social media (Photo: news.gooya.com)

With social media at the heart of last year's Arab Spring protests and with 'citizen journalists' now using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to get out information on Syrian atrocities, Iran's failed 'Twitter Revolution' of 2009 - mass-scale protests organised using the US-based microblogging site - has been all-but forgotten.

Iran has one of the world's most far-reaching censorship programmes and is regularly named by Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based NGO, on its 'Enemies of the Internet' list.

On 6 February it sentenced anti-government blogger Mehdi Khazali to 14 years in prison and 70 lashes - administered using a black leather whip first dipped in water to increase pain. In January, it arrested four people who ran a Facebook beauty contest page for "promoting prostitution."

EU-based companies, such as the UK's Creativity Software and Finnish-German company Nokia Siemens Networks, have in recent years faced embarrassment for allegedly selling relevant hardware and software to Iran.

The list of items now designated by the EU measure includes: "deep packet inspection equipment ... semantic processing engine equipment ... speaker recognition/processing equipment ... pattern recognition and pattern profiling equipment ... semantic processing engine equipment ... [and] WEP and WPA code-breaking equipment."

The EU also put under a visa ban and asset freeze eight officials whose work centers on censorship and propaganda.

The roll-call covers Ezzatollah Zarghami (the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting); Reza Taghipour (minister for information); Toraj Kazemi (a colonel who "recently announced a campaign for the recruitment of government hackers"); Mohammad-Ali Ramin (vice-minister in charge of press); Seyyed Sola Mortazavi (deputy interior minister); and Reza Jafari (a prosecutor specialising in 'cyber-crime').

Two intelligence officers - Gholamhosein Ramezani and Mohamed Sadeghi - were listed as being directly "responsible for the arrests and torture of bloggers/journalists."

Meanwhile, member states also on Friday agreed to let EU companies keep selling shipping insurance for oil tankers until 1 July. They agreed a similar let-off for insurance of petrochemcial product shipments until 1 May.

Reuters reports that "some countries" - the UK is the shipping insurance capital of the world - had pushed for an open-ended insurance let-off, but met with resistance. "If EU member states have decided on an oil ban, it is very difficult for them to go on insuring states who are not abiding by this oil ban," a senior EU official told the news agency.

The EU earlier this year agreed to stop buying oil from Iran from 1 July onward in a bid to harm its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

It also banned dealings with its central bank and Bank Tejarat as well as trade in gold and other precious minerals.

Bank dealing and gold trading can go on if it is not oil-related and if the money does not go to Iranian officials on the EU's blacklists - not easy to prove given the opaque nature of the Iranian administration.

Tusk: Poland risks harming EU appeal

EU Council president said anti-democratic 'interventions' in Poland and the US could harm Western soft power in its contest with Russia.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSU-Eurelectric-IndustriAllElectricity European Social Partners Stand up for Just Energy Transition
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  6. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  7. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  8. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  9. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  10. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  11. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  12. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition