Due diligence expectations of telecoms companies doing business with repressive regimes – the case of Italtel and Iran

This briefing paper examines a complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises against Italtel, a company that entered into an agreement to provide ‘dual-use’ telecommunications technology to Iran. This technology was subject to an EU Council Regulation on the export of dual-use items. Central to the complaint was the claim that these technologies, especially when controlled by repressive and authoritarian governments, have immense potential to negatively impact the civil and political (human) rights of their users.

The complaint against Italtel detailed the extensive interference of the Iranian government in the online activity of its citizens (including: control and censorship of internet content; cyber-attacks and hacking of political opponents; and monitoring and targeting of dissidents, sometimes leading to extrajudicial arrests and detention, torture and ill-treatment), affecting a variety of human rights, particularly the rights to freedom of information and expression and the right to privacy.

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