MTN must stand up for its users, meet international obligations
4:53pm | 7 November 2012 | by Access Policy Team,
Access has repeatedly seen governments crack down on dissent by using telecoms to surveil users and filter content. Iran epitomizes this trend, as its connected, tech-savvy population runs up against a government that relies on advanced surveillance and censorship methods to stifle free expression. One foreign telecom operating there, MTN, has faced international criticism and investigations over reports of its role in the harassment of government critics and participation in corrupt business practices.
As this brief details, MTN has unsettled obligations to the Iranian public. To date, MTN has operated there without regard to international norms on accountability and transparency and respect for human rights, exposing the company to the imminent threat of international sanctions that would likely limit their operations. The company must urgently respond to this crisis through presenting a principled and comprehensive set of commitments to rule of law, accountability and transparency, which protect both the rights of users, as well as the critically important progress of providing widely-available access to modern communications services to the Iranian public.
Against the threat of further damage to the company’s reputation, and the substantial risk of legal repercussions, MTN must sincerely commit to a human rights and rule of law framework, predicated on a set of basic principles set out in this brief.
Thanks go to Collin D. Anderson (https://twitter.com/CDA) for his work on this policy guidance.
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