The U.S. is planning to provide Iraqi authorities with technology to monitor and record telephone calls and text messages, according to a report from Mobiledia.
Spokesman for the U.S. forces in Iraq, Geoffrey Buchanan, told Radio Free Iraq that a deal was signed with Iraq’s Interior Ministry to provide it with the new technology as part of the agency’s new training program, to help curtailing terrorist attacks.
With the new devices, Iraqi authorities will be able to monitor at least 5,000 phones – mobile as well as fixed lines – simultaneously, covering both domestic and international calls.
While the devices may be an important tool for the Iraqi government and security forces to circumvent terrorist attacks, there is concern the Interior Ministry may not tightly control the telecommunications monitoring technology, and it may also be used for political purposes.
Suhair al-Juburi, chief of the Transport and Communications Committee in Baghdad, warned against such possible uses, saying the monitoring of phone calls and text messages of politicians may supply a steady stream of information that can be used against them.
Other opponents point to the fledgling country’s constitution, which reportedly guarantees freedom of communication and states that such communication can only be intercepted when authorized by a court.
Regardless of how the technology is transferred and who controls the monitoring, Iraq is not the first country to grapple with issues concerning mobile devices and their roles in politics and popular uprisings.