Monthly Archives: August 2012

TeliaSonera in human rights pledge

Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera has reacted to allegations that it has cooperated with authoritarian governments by announcing plans to overhaul its privacy and freedom of expression commitments in the Eurasia region.

The company’s chief executive officer and president, Lars Nyberg, said charges that TeliaSonera recently breached human rights had affected him deeply, saying: “By continuing to develop our change programme I want to show that we take this issue very seriously and want to be leading in this field.”

Mr Nyberg said that at group level, the company plans to take a number of actions to address the human rights accusations directed at it, to ensure that any operational decisions it takes “truly are in line with laws and regulations”.

It intends to engage with local authorities and use diplomatic channels to question or appeal decisions made in individual regions if they are considered to be at odds with human rights laws.

Mr Nyberg emphasised that it is “group management who takes responsibility” from now on.

TeliaSonera is also set to work alongside the Danish Institute for Human Rights and intends to carry out human rights impact assessments on certain countries.

www.eurocomms.com

EurasiaNet Blog: Inside the Cocoon Search This Blog Print version E-Mail Swedish-Finnish Telecom Aids Tajikistan Censorship

TeliaSonera, a telecom giant owned in part by the Swedish and Finnish governments, is again under fire for abetting an authoritarian regime.

The company owns a majority stake in Tcell, one of Tajikistan’s top mobile providers. Since fighting between local armed groups and government soldiers left dozens dead in Gorno-Badakhshan province on July 24, Tcell, along with Tajikistan’s other mobile, Internet and 3G providers, has blocked access to scores of websites under an order from the state communications agency that rests on shaky legal ground. Throughout the country, YouTube, Russian news agency RIA Novosti, and the independent Asia-Plus news agency, among others, remain blocked three weeks after the violence. And the government has kept most communications links with Gorno-Badakhshan severed.

From an August 14 Swedish radio report:

The head of information for TeliaSonera, Thomas Jönsson, tells Swedish Radio News that the closures followed orders from the Tajik government.

He says he naturally believes that information should be freely available. But when a country raises internal security issues, under the regulations they have to follow such requests.

However Johann Bihr of Reporters Without Borders says Tcell should have waited for court orders, under the international conventions that Tajikistan has signed.

The head of the Swedish branch of Amnesty International, Lise Berg, says their information confirms that Tcell is acting without court orders[.]

TeliaSonera released a statement on August 10 confirming the company had blocked communications access to Gorno-Badakhshan under government orders. “We hope the situation in Eastern Tajikistan soon improves so that we can resume our communication services in the region,” the statement said, noting the outages had affected approximately 115,000 customers, or 5 percent of Tcell’s subscribers.

TeliaSonera has faced criticism in the past for helping security services in countries notorious for human rights abuses, such as Azerbaijan, where it operates Azercell, and Belarus, where it holds a stake in Life. TeliaSonera controls subsidiaries in 15 countries, including Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Though some top rebels have surrendered, Khorog, the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan, remains tense. According to an unconfirmed media report, President Emomali Rakhmon has cancelled an upcoming trip there due to concerns for his safety.

www.eurasianet.org

Telecom giant, TeliaSonera subsidiary in Tadzhikistan accused of censorship

The Swedish – Finnish telecom giant TeliaSonera is again under fire. Their subsidiaries in Tadzhikistan (Tajikistan) is reported to have participated in a censorship by blocking news portals on behalf of the regime in the country.

Radio Sweden as well as the Finnish news organisation, Yle, report that  Tcell, a subsidiary of the Swedish-Finnish tele-operator, TeliaSonera is said to have blocked the free and independent exchange of information in the central Asian state

According to the Tadzhikistani activist Nuriddin Karsibojev, Tcell helped the government censor the movement of information in the country.

In an interview with the Swedish broadcaster Radio Sweden, Karsibojev,  who heads the Independent media organisation — said that Tcell shut down news portals at the government