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[liberationtech] Belarus/Ericsson/GSM

Cyrus Farivar cfarivar at
Mon Jan 17 06:54:22 PST 2011

For what it's worth, Nokia Siemens Networks basically said the same
thing about the kit they sold to Iran pre 2009 election.


On Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 2:41 PM, Luke Allnutt <AllnuttL at> wrote:
> Dear All,
> I'm a journalist from RFE/RL working on a story about the recent crackdown
> in Belarus. Our Belarus Service is reporting that hundreds of cell phone
> owners are being summoned for interrogation by police and the KGB because,
> on December 19, they were using their phones at the site of the
> antigovernment protest.
> We are trying to ascertain whether the phone operators were asked to supply
> the information about their customers' phone calls or whether the KGB was
> able to track these calls on their own. Both scenarios seem plausible.
> If anyone has any insight into what might have happened here and how easy it
> would be for the KGB to get that location data on their own, it would be
> much appreciated.
> My second question, if I may, would be about Ericsson, who have supplied
> Belarus operators with GSM equipment. I spoke via email to Ericsson, and
> from what I can make out, the GSM equipment they've supplied Belarus with is
> pretty standard and contains capabilities for "lawful intercept," which they
> say is entirely in keeping with worldwide standards and norms.
> I've spoken to a few experts to try to ascertain whether Ericsson is doing
> anything inappropriate here. Should they, for instance, sell different
> equipment to countries with less-than-democratic records? How difficult
> would it be for Ericsson to reengineer their systems so lawful intercept
> capabilities were taken out? And how difficult would it be to put those
> things back in?
> I apologize if these questions seem overly simplistic or off-the-mark. I
> have only a fairly limited understanding of the engineering questions; thus
> why I'm turning to you people.
> If anyone would have the time to answer my questions on list or off list, I
> would be hugely grateful. Many thanks for your time.
> Best Wishes,
> Luke
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Cyrus Farivar
"suh-ROOS FAR-ih-var"

 Freelance Technology Journalist
cfarivar at

DE: +49 163 763 3108 (m)
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"Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet."

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