issue 120

Boycott news from issue 120 of Ethical Consumer magazine September/October 2009


Nokia and others face Iranian boycott

The mobile phone company Nokia is among companies being targeted by the Iranian post-election opposition movement over claims of collaboration with the regime.

A joint subsidiary of Nokia and Siemens, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), provides the mobile phone network technology for millions in Iran. It is accused of providing surveillance facilities to the Iranian government which have led directly to arrests of activists through monitored phone calls and, allegedly, text messages.

NSN has responded that ‘Lawful Intercept’ – the capability to monitor voice calls – is a required standard of most countries, including all EU member states.1

The surveillance facility is routinely used against terrorism, child pornography and organised crime – as well as the monitoring of political subversion. NSN has flatly denied allegations in the Wall Street Journal that it provided more sophisticated phone monitoring technology or web censorship capability to Iran.2

Questioning Sales

Perhaps the issue is rather should NSN be operating in Iran at all? One Iranian journalist recently released from detention said, “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.”3

According to Ben Roome of NSN, “[Lawful Intercept] needs to be weighed against the huge empowerment that connectivity brings to ordinary Iranians... Would people in Iran be better off without access to telecommunications at all?”1

Nokia is only the highest profile Western target of a growing boycott campaign. A boycott of the use of text messages has apparently forced the state telecoms company to double the costs of texts – viewed as a victory by protestors. Iranian companies advertising on state-run TV have also been targeted by protesters who have produced boycott lists. Companies are apparently running scared, and the number of commercials has fallen.3

Boycott Nokia for Iran Crackdown

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Greenpeace call to Boycott Bluefin Tuna

Greenpeace has launched a boycott of bluefin tuna and those restaurants and retailers that sell it. Bluefin numbers have crashed by 90% in thirty years and there’s real concern the species faces extinction within three years.

According to Greenpeace:
• Bluefin tuna is an endangered species, like rhinos or tigers, but it is not being protected
• Governments have failed to take meaningful action to protect bluefin tuna, and unscrupulous companies like Nobu are profiting by selling an endangered species as sushi
• Only by taking urgent action will we prevent bluefin becoming extinct
• There are responsibly-sourced alternatives available for anyone who wants to eat sushi.
For more information, and to take the tuna pledge



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Mobile phones

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