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Source: WION

Aug 8, 2023

Germany's Bosch aided Iran's efforts targeting anti-hijab women and protesters

By: Vikrant Singh

Bosch, a prominent German engineering company, reportedly supplied a significant number of CCTV cameras to Iran, an investigation has claimed.

These cameras are allegedly used by Iranian authorities to monitor women who resist the country's strict Islamic laws, as per accounts from activists within Iran.

These Bosch cameras form a crucial component of an extensive surveillance network within Tehran, which the theocratic regime uses to suppress protests and enforce compliance, as per claims reported by the Telegraph.

Within the country, activists have managed to breach the security of these cameras in Tehran's transportation system, accessing and downloading video footage operated on Bosch software.

Bosch admits to having sold cameras to Iran

The company acknowledges that it completed sales of approximately 8,000 cameras to Iran during the period from 2016 to 2018. It was the period when Western businesses were allowed to do commerce with Iran following the signing of a treaty aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

In 2017, a high-ranking staff member from Bosch was recorded as having travelled to Khatam University in Tehran, where a seminar took place regarding subjects such as facial recognition technologies. 

These details were documented by German broadcaster ARD, although Bosch maintains the seminar never took place.

How are the cameras used by Iran?

Reports from activists indicate that these cameras are strategically positioned at busy intersections to monitor women who remove their headscarves in public, an action deemed a violation of Iranian religious law.

Amnesty International has documented instances where women driving through these intersections receive text messages from state security, warning them of fines for alleged improper wearing of headscarves.

While Bosch maintains that the cameras sold to Iran could support "intelligent tracking", an AI-driven technology enabling users to configure cameras for vehicle or movement tracking, the company denies having equipped the cameras with facial recognition capabilities. 

However, it accepts that the Iranian state could potentially deploy software from another company to perform facial image tracking based on the outputs.

Activists claim that local law enforcement employs these cameras to detect the formation of small gatherings, enabling prompt intervention to suppress protests.

Germany-Iran trade after JCPOA

Berlin was the first Western capital to boost its business relations with Iran after the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) aimed at controlling Iran's nuclear aspirations. 

Sigmar Gabriel, the economy minister at the time, led a delegation of 150 business executives to Iran. However, German companies withdrew their involvement two years later due to the United States' withdrawal from the nuclear treaty and its subsequent threats of sanctions against firms continuing business with Tehran.

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