Porn, Death, and the Internet in Iran

Porn, Death, and the Internet in Iran

Summary: Iran continues to close it doors to the Internet while alienating the rest of the world with its proposed execution of a Web developer, saber rattling, and Internet censorship.

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Google statistics show Iran still censoring Gmail.

Google statistics show Iran still censoring Gmail.

What is it with Iran? Do they want to alienate the entire world? As Violet Blue reports, Iran is getting ready to execute Web developer Saeed Malekpour for allegedly building and maintaining porn websites. What he really did was help write a script that's part of generic Web photo uploader. At the same time, Iran boasts of further nuclear enrichment advances; seems to be attempting terrorist attacks; and is saber rattling in Persian Gulf. What do Iranian citizens think about this? It's hard to say. Iran is continuing to censor the Internet.

For more than a week now, Iran has locked down almost all Internet services that use the HTTPS protocol for security. Google has confirmed that Iran started blocking such services as Gmail and YouTube starting on February 10th. This may have been to stop protests on the anniversary of the arrest of Green movement leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi on February 14th for contesting the results of the disputed 2009 presidential vote. In addition, Iran will be holding parliamentary elections on March 2nd.

Iran makes no pretense about trying to censor the Internet. Government officials say, for example, that Google offers Iranians “online criminal content." Amin Sabeti, a British Iranian IT blogger, said the Iranian government wanted to create its own version of the Internet because it viewed the Internet as an enemy. According to the New York Times, Mr. Sabeti said, “One of the members of Iran’s Internet filtering council said Google is using SSL and we cannot monitor it, therefore we’ve blocked Gmail and Google’s services.”

Indeed they are. Google Transparency Reports for Gmail in Iran shows that while some e-mail started flowing again by February 12 . However, even now, Iran's Gmail traffic is far below its normal rates.

Besides using a firewall to block traffic, Iran has taken more direct action against Internet users. Public Internet sites, such as coffee houses, are also being clamped down on. The Wall Street Journal reports that in January the Iranian government ordered Internet cafes to “install security cameras, start collecting detailed personal information on customers and document users' online footprints.”

Iranian Internet users are fighting back as best they can. According to AnchorFree, creators of HotSpot Shield, a virtual private network (VPN) service designed to “designed specifically to get around dynamic blocking, or play the cat and mouse game with censors,” such as those now being used in the Iranian  national firewall, they've seen a ten fold increase in Iranian users since July 2011 "from about 35,000 to 366,000 today. AnchorFree is also on track to do about 30 percent more pageviews in Iran this month vs. last. What's interesting is that AnchorFree isn't doing any paid marketing in that region, so this growth has been completely viral, with users either forwarding software to each other or getting it from third-party sites that haven't been blocked.”

So, as ever, the Internet is routing around damage. In this case, the damage caused by government censorship. That won't do Malekpour any good though. He seems destined to be executed shortly for creating an image upload program that just happens to be used by some porn sites.

On the outside looking in, we can only speculate what Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks he's doing. Perhaps by trying to make the rest of the world Iran's enemy he hopes to preserve his own power. Certainly by trying to cut off the Iranian people's access to the Internet, he's doing his best to keep his people from realizing how Iran is becoming see as a barbarian state that would execute innocents in the name of anti-pornographic censorship.

Related Stories:

Iran’s Deadly Cyber Police: Indefinite Detention and Execution for Netizens

Iran cuts off access to popular Web sites

Iran blocks Internet access

Iran set to execute Web developer

Topics: Browser, Collaboration

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  • You do realize Steven ...

    that if the U.S. government (the CIA) hadn't overthrown Iran's democratically-elected government (at the behest of the British) in 1953 and installed the Shah, none of this would likely be happening today. Is there, perhaps, a message here?<br><br>P.S. Ahmadinejad is a figurehead. He is not the Supreme Leader.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Ahmadinejad is second banana...

      @Rabid Howler Monkey
      ...and responsible for administering the day to day affairs of the government. That would not make him a figurehead.
      John L. Ries
  • The message is

    that if they overthrown Iran's "democratically-elected" government, radicals would have possibly thown in someone even worse then the Shah?
    William Farrel
    • RE: The message is

      @William Farrel There weren't any radicals around in 1953, other than Democracy-loving Iranians.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • The US military might and influence has advanced A lot since...

    Regardless of what the "CIA" or other government body has accomplished in the past, don't forget that US technology and its weaponization has advanced a great deal since the past decades...while Iran still has our F-14's. And this time the lure of black gold is more attractive than ever...for many parties.<br><br>Only in movies do "ideology" make such a huge impact on victory. History shows that the ones with the biggest gun most often wins. And at the end of the day, propaganda spews from all sides of the lines anyway and ppl will adapt to the new order. Most ppl don't really give a crap about politics. They just want to live happily and raise thier kids to live happily no matter what "God" or not they worship. And Iran shows it has some smart ppl out there that we can absorb happily to worship the new religious order...Global Capitalism!
    rasmasyean
  • Governments attempting to block access to websites is wrong?

    Tell us Steven, when is it right and when is it wrong for a Government to 'attempt' to block citizen access to a website? Are the Iranian government more wrong than what your government recently did to Wikileaks?

    Don't tell me that your country is above the law and that your sh*t doesn't stink. because we've all seen your dirty laundry and it aint pretty. Some of your country's dirty tricks over the years rival what we are seeing in Iran and if you think you live in a free democratic country take another look at all the government run agencies (U.S.) and their rights. In short, your government doesn't need proof to record all of your telphone and electronic activity, it doesn't need proof to confiscate your property or freeze your bank accounts and it certainly doesn't need proof to drag you off to an unknown location for intensive 'discussion' and a good healthy dose of water boarding.

    Your economy tanks and takes half the world with it, all because your greedy bankers cant keep a lid on their lending. and instead of sending them to jail, you buy out their debts and give them healthy bonus'.

    U.S. = Red neck lunatic control freaks.
    john.anderson@...
    • Yep...

      @john.anderson@... <br>...SVJN speaks for the U.S. government and any bad behavior by said government makes the Iranian government immune from criticism.<br><br>It wasn't any more convincing in the 1970s when spokesmen for sundry dictatorships used the same sort of rhetoric to deflect criticism from their respective regimes.
      John L. Ries
  • The point is - let people communicate

    Government (of any country) intentions aside, the point is that if lines of communication between people on the street and the rest of the world are kept open then you and I can make our own decisions as to what is happening, whether a story is hype or whether it's reality. However cut off https and therefore many methods of secure communication, (or an alternative) and you are left with speculation which results in people making bad decisions.
    jamfuse
  • AnchorFree

    Too bad AnchorFree does not offer international IPs, just US ones. The US will be just as active and far more damaging in their internet filtering efforts than Iran ever will be if SOPA passes.
    M.M.Grimes
  • VPN

    If you prefer to use an open source vpn solution, you can use OpenVPN client with VpnBook server.
    Chod Tion