No American firms sell online surveillance tools to Iran, GAO says

Cyrus Farivar | Featured, Iran
30 Jun 2011

Today, the Government Accountability Office (the investigative arm of the US Congress), released a 15-page report, which outlines that in the two years since the Iranian election, no American companies have been selling online surveillance tools to the Islamic Republic.

Here’s the relevant section:

The U.S. government is establishing procedures to implement the procurement ban, such as issuing an interim rule to federal agencies prohibiting procurement from firms that export sensitive technology to Iran. However, as of June 24, 2011, the U.S. government had identified no entities subject to this ban. Moreover, based on our review of credible open source information, we did not identify any firms that export technologies to the Iranian government for monitoring, filtering, and disrupting information and communications flows. There are several possible reasons for the difficulty in identifying any such firms, including (1) the competitive and proprietary nature of the communication industry limits information, if any, reported in open sources and (2) the lack of a clear distinction between technology exported to Iran to disrupt the free flow of information versus technology exported to Iran to support necessary and acceptable filtering and monitoring of communication. In addition, Iran’s growing capacity to develop its own monitoring, filtering, and disrupting technology suggests it is relying less on non-Iranian technology to monitor and filter internal communications.

We are making no recommendations in this report.

Also, note:

Iran is decreasing its reliance on technology and support from non-Iranian companies to filter, monitor, and disrupt information and communication flows. State reported in December 2010 that the Iranian government is now focused on building its domestic capacity in this area. State further noted that Iranian security continues to increase the budget and manpower devoted to its censorship surveillance systems.

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