German engineering giant Bosch supplied thousands of CCTV cameras to Iran that are being used to track women who defy the country’s strict Islamic laws, an investigation has claimed.
Bosch cameras are part of a tight surveillance network on the streets of Tehran used by its clerical rulers to crack down on protesters who refuse to cover their heads, said Iranian activists.
Activists inside the country have hacked into cameras in the capital’s transport system and downloaded footage run on Bosch software.
The company has admitted that it sold around 8,000 cameras to Iran in the window between 2016 and 2018, during which Western companies could do business in Iran after the signing of a treaty to curtail its nuclear ambitions.
In 2017, a senior staff member at Bosch travelled to Khatam University, in Tehran, to give a seminar on topics including how to use facial recognition technologies, according to records of the event seen by German broadcaster ARD.
The company has denied that the seminar took place.
Activists say the cameras are being used at busy junctions to watch over women who remove their headscarves in public – a punishable offence under Iranian religious law.
Amnesty International has reported that women in Tehran are sent text messages by state security shortly after driving through junctions threatening them with fines for allegedly not wearing the headscarves properly.
Bosch has stated that the cameras it sold to Iran could be used for “intelligent tracking”, an AI-based technology that allows users to configure the camera to track vehicles or movements.
The company denies that the cameras were equipped with facial recognition technology, but said there was nothing to prevent the Iranian state from using software from another firm to track facial images taken from its cameras.
Berlin’s improved business links
Activists say that the cameras are being used by police to detect when small groups of people start to gather in a single location so that officers can swiftly end protests.
Berlin was the first Western capital to improve business ties with Iran after a pact was signed in 2015 to control the country’s nuclear ambitions.
Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister, flew to the country with 150 business executives.
But German firms pulled out only two years later, when the United States withdrew from the nuclear treaty and threatened to impose sanctions on companies that continued to do business with Tehran.
A spokesman for Bosch said: “Bosch was not involved in the traffic monitoring project – nor were we aware of the use of our cameras in the project.
“In Iran, as in many other countries, Bosch has not directly sold its cameras to system integrators, facilities, or end customers.”
Source » msn