The online news outlet, The Intercept, received insider information detailing Iran’s plans to establish a mobile network, complete with user management and lawful interception. The material was examined by Citizen Lab researchers in October 2022 and its findings are discussed in this report.
Iran’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) mandates telecom operators to give it direct access to their systems. By using a ‘Legal Intercept’ provision, the CRA can store user data, control access to mobile services, and track voice, SMS, and data usage history.
The CRA’s system integrates directly into mobile providers’ operations via APIs, gaining detailed service and billing data. All SIM card-related requests must be approved by the CRA. This degree of control is unusual in the modern mobile communications industry and would allow the state to closely monitor all mobile communications.
Companies from Russia, the UK, and Canada are in discussions about supplying technology and services for Iran’s Legal Intercept requirements. No contracts are yet confirmed, but negotiations reveal significant details about the planned system and the private-sector services that will support it.