Originally published: March 20, 2012
Last updated: April 4, 2012 - 6:27pm
For far too long, the Iranian regime has tried to control the flow of information and ideas to and from the Iranian people and the outside world. As people everywhere are making their voices heard through new technologies and social media, the people of Iran often find their voices stifled and their ability to connect denied. Like the Iron Curtain of the 20th century, an Electronic Curtain is descending as the Iranian regime attempts to control what its citizens see and hear. The Iranian people have a universal right to access information, and to freely assemble online. Yet the Iranian regime increasingly denies these rights, and uses technology to suppress its people. Reporters Without Borders named Iran an “Internet Enemy” for 2011, and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists calls Iran one of the world’s “Ten Online Oppressors.”
As more citizens use the Internet as a source for news and political debate, the government has responded by:
- Monitoring and filtering Internet content: Iran routinely blocks access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites, blog platforms, photo or video-exchange websites, and other sites related to politics and human rights. Recent reports indicate that Iran has blocked over 5 million websites, to include frequently accessed sites such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Skype, stifling the ability for millions to interact with those inside and outside of Iran.
- Limiting Access: Through a 2006 law, Iranians have limited access to broadband Internet, and internet speeds are further slowed during times for heightened public discourse, to include elections, planned protests, or other major national events that might lead to public assembly.
- Suspending Access to the Internet: During the past year, the government has announced its intention to create a “National Intranet” to better control and monitor the flow of information. To prevent Iranian citizens from accessing content outside the country, Iran took the draconian step of blocking the most common form of secure connection (SSL) used by millions of web services and businesses — preventing an estimated 30 million Iranians from using e-mail or Skype to connect to the outside world.
The U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) issued guidance that will facilitate the availability of software and services that Iranians have told us are essential in order to effectively use the Internet. The United States will continue to draw attention to the Electronic Curtain that is cutting the Iranian people off from the world. We encourage all who support the universal rights of the Iranian people to join us.
- Iran Vows to Unplug Internet
- Web Pries Lid of Censorship
- Iran readies domestic Internet system, blocks Google
- Iran's Web Spying Aided By Western Technology
- Five technologies Iran is using to censor the Web
- From new media, a new portrait of Iran emerges
- As Blogs Are Censored, It's Kittens to the Rescue
- Iran Begins To Lock Out The World From Its Intranet, Beginning With Email
- Senators To Introduce Legislation To Help Media Report Iran Story
- Iran Unblocks Gmail
- Activists Skirt Web Crackdown to Reach the Outside World
- Obama Points To New Media In Bringing Struggle in Iran to World
- Huawei Aids Iran
- Google's Email Is Halted In Iran
- Internet again disrupted in Iran ahead of election