The Democratic Alliance will submit a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for access to copies of records relating to cellphone operator MTN’s business activities in Iran.
Party MP David Maynier said on Wednesday allegations which emerged in a lawsuit filed in the US district court of Columbia in Washington, DC suggest that MTN may have undertaken to provide access to its devices by agreeing to facilitate the installation of “eavesdropping technology” on its devices in Iran.
“I am concerned that in possibly facilitating the surveillance of the political opposition, the MTN Group may directly or indirectly be responsible for the violation of human rights in Iran,” Maynier said.
“If the MTN Group has nothing to hide, the company should have no problem handing over copies of the records relating to its business dealings in Iran.”
Maynier said he would submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for copies of all records in the possession of the MTN Group board relating to possible human rights violations in Iran and copies of all records in the group Social and Ethics Committee relating to Iran.
According to court papers quoted by Maynier, MTN “offered the advantage” to Iranian state-owned defence company Sairan to provide access by the Iranian ministry of defence to MTN’s devices, once the company was running a private cellular network in Iran.
The access would facilitate installation of eavesdropping technology on MTN devices.
MTN claims that it “seeks to ensure that our corporate values of respect for human rights are reflected in the way we do business”.
The SA Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday that it had received a request to investigate MTN for human rights violations in Iran.
MTN has been accused of facilitating the surveillance of Iranian opposition activists by allowing phones to be bugged. Rival cellphone company Turkcell has also accused MTN of using bribery to obtain an operating licence in Iran. — Sapa