Swedish telecom

Syrian regime uses Ericsson technology

2:03 min

The Swedish telecom giant Ericsson is supplying the Syrian regime with mobile phone technology that makes it possible to follow what the opposition there does, reports Swedish Television. This, despite months of uprisings that the Syrian regime has time and again violently put down, with over 4,000 deaths.

Ericsson's RANOS system, which stands for Radio Access Network Operational Support, is a technology that allows you to track the location of mobile phones. IT security expert Lars-Olov Strömberg tells Swedish Television that in big cities you can track the location of a mobile phone with the technology within 5 to 10 meters, 100-200 meters in the countryside.

In Syria, where it is a crime to be against the regime, you can only buy a SIM card for a mobile phone if you register first with the authorities. This allows authorities to pinpoint where every citizen is. And the technology also makes it possible to see who was at what demonstration by tracking the phones.

A Syrian activist in Sweden, Jaber Zain, says it has been a catastrophe. "People have been located and arrested and many have been tortured and killed,” he says. “These are people who've been murdered after they were found with the help of their mobile phones."

Ericsson says it can not be responsible if its technology is misused.

Left Party Parliamentarian Hans Linde strongly disagrees. "This of course is very upsetting that Swedish technology can be used to track the opposition in Syria and the responsibility for this is on Ericsson but also the center-right government in Sweden who has actively deepened the economic ties between Sweden and the regime in Syria,” he says.

But Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is defending Ericsson. "Generally, it’s important that mobile telephones and the possibility to have direct communication between individuals is spread out into the world,” he says. “I think it contributes to both good economic as well as democratic development."