Telco Hall of Shame: Nokia Siemens Networks B.V.

Inductee: Nokia Siemens Networks B.V.

Headquarters: Finland
CEO: Rajeev Suri
Board Chairman: Jesper Ovesen
Nokia Siemens Networks Board


Network Size: Sells network equipment to more than 600 operator customers, serving 2.5 billion subscribers.

Countries of Operation: Corporate customers in more than 150 countries.

Finances: Nokia Group is valued at $15.29B. Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture between Nokia Group and Siemans AG, issues consolidated financial reporting as a part of Nokia Group. According to Nokia’s Group’s FY2012 Q4 reporting, Nokia Siemens Networks reported a net loss of 779 million Euro in FY2012. However, their non-IFRS reporting was a net gain of 778 million Euro. In Nokia Group’s FY2012 Q4 interim report, Nokia Siemens Networks was estimated to have contributed 650 million Euro to Nokia Group’s net cash gains of 800 million Euro, or 81.25% of Nokia’s total cash position.


Human Rights Committments and Lawful Intercept: Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) provides products and services that expand opportunities to communicate and which directly contribute to the exercise of such fundamental rights as free expression and political participation, to the benefit of individuals and their societies. Nokia Siemens Networks is committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the human rights principles of the United Nations Global Compact and has embedded them in our Code of Conduct and operations and annual corporate responsibility reporting.

Nokia Siemens Networks does not intend to provide systems to be used for limiting political discourse, conducting surveillance of individuals beyond standards-based Lawful Interception (LI), blocking other legitimate forms of free speech, or other abuses of fundamental human rights…. Lawful intercept is nevertheless vulnerable to abuse. Therefore, the company has voluntarily and globally restricted itself to providing core LI capabilities that are legally required for our customers to deploy, and that are based on clear standards and a transparent foundation in law and practice.”


Iranian post-election crackdown

Nokia sold surveillance equipment to the Iranian government that enabled its crackdown on the Green Movement after the 2009 presidential elections. In a public resolution, the European Parliament declared that it “strongly criticises international companies, in particular Nokia Siemens, for providing the Iranian authorities with the necessary censorship and surveillance technology, thus being instrumental in the persecution and arrest of Iranian dissidents.”

On June 22, 2009, Nokia Siemens issued a public statement saying it “provided Lawful Intercept capability solely for the monitoring of local voice calls in Iran,” but that it “has not provided any deep packet inspection, web censorship or Internet filtering capability to Iran.” However, it then issued a ‘further statement’ clarifying that its devices allowed “law enforcement agencies to intercept phone calls and text messages.” In March 2009, Nokia Siemens sold the business division responsible for surveillance technology, Intelligence Solutions, whose new owners, Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP, renamed the business unit as Trovicor.

In a statement, the company said the sale was made because the surveillance division “primarily addresses customer segments which differ from telecom service providers and is therefore not part of Nokia Siemens Networks core business.”

Nokia Siemens referenced local law and international export treaties, not international human rights norms, as the important factors used when deciding to sell surveillance equipment to oppressive regimes. However, Trovicor retained many staff members from its Nokia days, including Trovicor’s Managing Director, Jesper Mathiesen, formerly Nokia Siemens’ Head of Solution Sales Management.

Access ran a campaign against Nokia Siemens over these lingering ties.

Nokia Siemens was sued in the US by the family of an Iranian journalist, Isa Saharkhiz, who was arrested and tortured in July 2009 for the role the company’s surveillance equipment played in his arrest.

Enabling Bahrain to locate and torture dissidents

During the political protests in 2010 and 2011, many political dissidents were detained in Bahrain. Between beatings by state security forces, detainees were read transcripts of their text messages and other mobile communications. Officials accessed the private messages using surveillance equipment sold by Nokia Siemens and its divested Trovicor unit. An NSN spokesman said, “Ultimately people who use this technology to infringe human rights are responsible for their actions.”


Nokia Siemens Networks is a founding member of the Industry Dialogue.

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