Iran Ramps Up Internet Control

Iran has ramped up its measures of control on Internet content. Most recently, Iran blocked the rapidly expanding newcomer to the social networking scene, Google+, accusing it of being a US spy tool. This rhetoric is not new for the Iranian authorities; recently, for example, the head of Iran’s voluntary Basij militia, Mohammad Reza Naghdi, wrote a poem claiming that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are, along with illicit substances such as heroin and crack cocaine, tools used by the United States to corrupt Iranian youth.

This past week, Iran began implementing plans to upgrade its filtration system in an attempt to prevent users from using circumvention tools to evade censorship. The upgrade originally appeared as a loosening of Internet restrictions when several sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, were made temporarily available. Later that day, however, a news agency indicated that the sites’ accessibility was only temporary and resultant from upgrades being made to the system. Details about what these upgrades may entail are currently unavailable.These actions have led some to speculate that these measures are being taken in reaction to the State Department’s ‘Internet in a Suitcase’ initiative. It is, however, unclear that these two events are actually linked.

This past April, Iran also announced plans for the creation of a parallel ‘halal’ intranet, similar to North Korea’s system, which substitutes a completely internalized intranet system for global Internet connectivity.