Iran Goes One Step Further In Controlling Internet Access

Sameera Ehteram
Apparently there is no end to tricks of a state bent on curtailing and controlling its citizen’s freedoms!

Internet Access Harder

Apparently there is no end to tricks of a state bent on curtailing and controlling its citizen’s freedoms!

Iran is one of the countries in the world that believe in controlling the lives of its people.  It has now introduced a government Internet filter that prevents Iranians from accessing many sites on the official grounds if they are offensive or criminal.

Many Iranians evade the filter through use of VPN software, which provides encrypted links directly to private networks based abroad, and can allow a computer to behave as if it is based in another country.

But the check is there.  

And now the authorities have now blocked “illegal” VPN access!

Iran is holding a presidential election in June, its first since 2009, when a disputed result led to the worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Protesters used services like Facebook to communicate during those “Green Movement” demonstrations, and the government has taken steps to curb access to the Internet in the last few months, apparently determined to prevent a repeat this time.

The internet filters will cut off access to widely used sites such as Yahoo and Google.

Internet filters are software tools that can help monitor web content viewed on a particular computer or network. In the case of family safety settings, Internet filters can also help parents manage howkids can communicate with or how long kids can use the computer.

Well, apparently some states take their ‘parenting’ quite seriously!

According to Reuters, Mehdi Akhavan Behabadi, secretary of Iran's Supreme Cyberspace Council, said in January that Internet users would soon be able to purchase registered VPN connections and that other VPNs were illegal. Financial institutions and other organizations might need to use VPNs for security reasons, which would be a legal use.

This controlling attitude seems to be contagious as well. Another country seemingly eager to follow the footsteps of its neighbor is Pakistan.  Although the Pakistani government does not employ a sophisticated blocking system, a limitation which has led to collateral blocks on entire domains such as and, it continues to block websites containing content it considers to be blasphemous, anti-Islamic, or threatening to internal security. Pakistan has blocked access to websites critical of the government or the military.

In March 2012, the Pakistan government has taken the unusual step of touting for firms it thinks could help build it a nationwide content-filtering service capable of blocking up to 50 million websites.

Reporters Without Borders, in its 2012 report  on countries that are “Enemies of the Internet”, has stated that Pakistan may be in the list next year for its attempt to set up a nation-wide internet filtering system.

The report states:

“At the time of writing, Pakistan has invited private-sector companies to bid for the creation of a national Internet filtering and blocking system. Reporters Without Borders has asked the authorities to abandon this project, which would result in the creation of an Electronic Great Wall. If they go ahead, Pakistan could be added to the Enemies of the Internet in 2013.”