Iran Blocks Foreign Websites Before Islamic Revolution Anniversary

Iran has blocked multiple websites right before the upcoming anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. According to reports from users in the country, Gmail, Facebook, and Yahoo have all been blocked, along with other foreign websites. The AFP reports that users who have tried to visit these sites have been faced with the Farsi message "Access to this page is a violation of computer crime laws" or severely slow connections. ZDNet reported that the https protocol has been down in the country since Thursday. Moreover, websites that rely on Google APIs, such as Wolfram Alpha, are inaccessible, along with most proxies. 30 million Iranians have been affected by the Internet block of mostly foreign sites, including popular email providers.

The government has not admitted to any blocking measures, but media are speculating that the move is an attempt to stifle any opposition that may occur during the upcoming anniversary celebrations. Given that demonstrations against the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were organized in part through social media networks, the government may fear a similar flow of collective action building up on the Internet. Yet the recent block could also just be the Iranian government's transition toward a domestic "halal" intranet. The intranet would make proxy server access essentially impossible.

Although most believe the government to be behind the sudden block on the Internet, some lawmakers in Iran disputed whether this move would be beneficial for the regime. “The recent practice of blocking services that are used by most people, without prior notice or reasonable explanation by officials, will lead to complaints,” Ahmad Tavakoli, the head of the parliament’s research center stated. “Such an irritating ban will be costly for the government.”