Oni Iran 2009


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Oni Iran 2009

  1. 1. Internet Filtering in Iran Overview Background The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to Speech in the Islamic Republic of Iran is expand and consolidate its technical heavily regulated. The limits to freedom of filtering system, which is among the most expression in Iran are grounded in the extensive in the world. A centralized constitution and speech restrictions system for Internet filtering has been extend over a broad range of topics, implemented that augments the filtering including religion, immorality, social conducted at the Internet service provider harmony and politics. In comparison to the (ISP) level. Iran now employs domestically well developed state controls over print produced technology for identifying and media, radio and television, the Internet blocking objectionable Web sites, reducing initially offered a relatively unfettered its reliance on Western filtering medium for communication in Iran, technologies. The regulatory agencies in allowing independent media and Iran charged with policing the Internet opposition voices to flourish.1 The Internet continue to expand. The Revolutionary also has provided Iranian expatriates a Guard has begun to play an active role in platform for publishing opinions in enforcing Internet content standards. In opposition to the government, such as conjunction with expansive surveillance, pro-secular and reformist political this increase in regulatory attention viewpoints, outside of the reach of exacerbates an online atmosphere that standard offline strategies for enforcing promotes self-censorship and discourages speech restrictions. The growing popularity dissenting views. The blocking of political of the Internet has led to increasing Web sites during the 2009 presidential government scrutiny. Dissenting voices elections energized opposition to Internet online, including human rights activists, censorship within Iran and has brought bloggers and online media outlets, have fresh attention to the issue of press became the target of government controls. regulatory action and are subject to arrest, imprisonment and torture.2 Internet RESULTS AT A GLANCE No evidence of Suspected Selective Substantial Pervasive Filtering filtering filtering filtering filtering filtering Political  Social  Conflict/security  Internet tool  Other factors Low Medium High Not applicable Transparency  Consistency  1
  2. 2. KEY INDICATORS worst best GDP per capita, PPP (current international $)…………………….....7,968 ……………… Life expectancy at birth (years)……………………………………………….70.2 ……………………………………..… Literacy rate (% of people age 15+)…………………………………………82.4 …………………………………………. Human development index (out of 179)…………………………………..…84 …………………………………… Rule of law (percentile)……………………………………………………………..21 …………> Voice and accountability (percentile)……………………………………………8 …… Digital opportunity index (out of 181)………………………………….……105 ………………… Internet users (% of population)……………………………………………......35 …………………………… control mechanisms have continued to Russia, where pro-Kremlin bloggers are grow in scope and scale to address this suspected of receiving government digital challenge to information control in support.4 Iran. Regulators have invested in more sophisticated technical control Internet in Iran mechanisms, and new regulatory agencies Internet usage in Iran continues to have been created to identify and block increase at a sharp rate. Over the past expression deemed offensive. The eight years, the number of Internet users presidential elections in 2009 led to an in Iran has grown at an average annual increase in online political organizing, rate of approximately 48 percent, which provided a further impetus for increasing from under one million Internet increasingly contentious controls on the users in 20005 to around 23 million in Web sites used by legitimate opposition 2008.6 This rate of growth is higher than contenders. any other country in the Middle East. Internet users now account for Efforts to control online speech by the approximately 35 percent of the Iranian government have relied primarily population of Iran. This Internet on large-scale Internet filtering and the penetration rate is considerably higher threat of targeted legal action. The than the Middle East average of 26 declaration of a spokesman from the percent.7 Revolutionary Guard to launch ten thousand blogs written by members of the The Persian blogosphere has been Basij, a volunteer Iranian paramilitary heralded as one of the largest and most force under the authority of the Iranian active in the world. The number of active Revolutionary Guards, hints at the Persian blogs is estimated to be adoption of a different strategy for shaping approximately 60,000—a formidable online information: a government-backed number of independent voices for a war of words on the Internet.3 This is country accustomed to tightly controlling similar conceptually to the government the press.8 information dissemination strategies seen in just a small number of countries, for Iranian Internet policies reflect a strong example, the fifty-cent army in China, tension between the regulatory urge to where workers are reportedly paid for reign in free speech and the promotion of producing pro-government content, and in innovation and economic growth 2
  3. 3. supported by expanding access to than doubling from 2005 to 2007.13 The information and communication growth of fiber-optic networks in Iran has technologies (ICT). Bolstered by the strong since dropped off precipitously.14 growth in Internet penetration in Iran, Mohammad Soleimani, the Minister of Iran’s fourth Five-Year Development Plan Information and Communications, publicly called for enhanced broadband defended the ceiling on access speeds, penetration with 1.5 million high-speed and indicated that slower speeds are Internet connections nationwide.9 adequate and that there is no demand for However, in October 2006, the Ministry of higher speeds.15 Iran is the only country in Communications and Information the world to have instituted an explicit cap Technology (MICT) issued an order that on Internet access speed for households. appears to have been designed to thwart household access to broadband Internet, Efforts to gain control over the Internet forbidding ISPs from providing Internet were already underway in 2001, when the connectivity to households and public government of Iran asserted control over Internet access points at speeds greater all Internet access points coming into the than 128 kilobytes per second. This policy, country.16 Commercial ISPs in Iran that which restricts the ability of Internet users offer Internet connectivity to the public are to download multimedia content, is likely required to connect via the state- intended to hinder access to online controlled Telecommunication Company of alternative media sources that might Iran (TCI).17 ONI research corroborates compete with the tightly controlled radio that ISPs offering Internet service to the and television media in Iran.10 public all connect via TCI. The other international connections to the Internet At the time of this order, approximately are associated with research and 250,000 users had access to high-speed academic organizations. Designing the Internet service, with demand continuing Internet infrastructure around a to grow.11 Over the prior two years, eleven government-managed gateway—rare for a companies had been licensed to provide country with this many Internet users— such high-speed services and had offers a central point of control that invested significant capital in importing facilitates the implementation of Internet the required machinery and setting up the filtering and monitoring of Internet use. required infrastructure. These regulations on Internet access speed were met with Legal and regulatory frameworks intense opposition, including a campaign Speech regulation in Iran is rooted in its to overturn the policy by members of constitution, which declares that “the parliament.12 Reports at the time media should be used as a forum for suggested that the restrictions would be healthy encounter of different ideas, but lifted once more effective content control they must strictly refrain from diffusion mechanisms were put into place. and propagation of destructive and anti- However, the ban on high-speed service Islamic practices.”18 Applying these for households and public access points principles to the Internet has proven to be remains in place, although universities difficult. A number of government and private businesses are able to obtain regulatory initiatives have been launched high-speed broadband service. Before this over the past decade to assert control policy was enacted, fiber-optic networks over online communications, although the had been expanding rapidly in Iran, more 3
  4. 4. legal status of Web sites and blogs Internet censorship in Iran was a public continues to be contested. relations liability, as they were viewed as contributing to the suppression of The legal and institutional basis for the legitimate speech, if not breaking US law technical filtering system in Iran grew out by violating trade sanctions against Iran. of a series of decrees passed down by the For the Iranian government, the reliance Supreme Council of the Cultural on Western technologies was seen as a Revolution (SCRC) in December 2001 that source of weakness and a potential required ISPs to employ filtering vulnerability to the integrity of the Iranian systems.19 An inter-agency committee, the Internet. Some within Iran were concerned Committee in Charge of Determining that Western software might include a Unauthorized Sites (CCDUS), was set up a ‘backdoor’ that would give outsiders year later to set criteria for identifying access to key infrastructure.26 unauthorized Web sites to be blocked.20 This committee also decides on the Several Iranian technology companies are blocking of specific domains. The SCRC now producing hardware and software issues guidelines to this committee and products for use in the Iranian filtering oversees committee members, which system.27 Domestically produced include representatives of MICT, the technology is currently used for filtering. Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance Iranian technology is also used for (MCIG), the Ministry of Intelligence and searching the Internet for objectionable National Security and the Tehran content and tracking keywords and links Prosecutor General.21 to banned Web sites, which are used by filtering authorities to make blocking The implementation of the filtering decisions.28 With the emergence of this decisions is charged to a filtering division domestic technical capacity, Iran joins within the Information Technology China as the only countries that Company of Iran (ITC), an agency under aggressively filter the Internet using their MICT.22 Another agency, the own technology. Communication Infrastructure Company, has been given the task of unifying The legal structures for enforcing speech filtering across Iran.23 restrictions in Iran are ambitious in their reach and offer authorities several Iran has promoted the development of alternatives for targeting objectionable domestic tools and technical capacity to speech and implementing the wide carry out Internet filtering in order to mandate to curtail a broad range of reduce its reliance of Western impermissible speech in Iran. Significant technologies. Prior ONI research reported ambiguity in the statutes and directives the use of SmartFilter, a product of the used to regulate speech in Iran leaves the United States based firm Secure agencies charged with executing these Computing, for filtering Internet content.24 laws with broad discretionary powers. Secure Computing denied any knowledge of the use of their products in Iran.25 The The Press Law of 1986 is the principle use of Western technology was instrument for regulating media in Iran problematic both for the companies and frames the boundaries of permissible involved and for the Iranian government. speech by media. This legislation is For the companies, involvement in unusual in that it not only describes 4
  5. 5. restricted speech but also lays out government claims that the law now normative objectives for the press, who applies to all “internet publications.”35 are required to “propagate and promote genuine Islamic culture and sound ethical As applied to Web sites and blogs, the principles.”29 The Press Law outlines Press Law would not only subject online broad restrictions on speech, including content to the comprehensive set of prohibitions on “promoting subjects that speech restrictions in the law, but would might damage the foundation of the also require Web sites to obtain a license Islamic Republic … offending the Leader of prior to publication. Bloggers and online the Revolution … or quoting articles from media sources would also be subject to the deviant press, parties or groups that the regulatory authority of the Press oppose Islam (inside and outside the Supervisory Board under the Ministry of country) in such a manner as to propagate Islamic Culture and Guidance (MICG), such ideas… or encouraging and which has the power to revoke licenses, instigating individuals and groups to act ban publications, and refer complaints to against the security, dignity and interests a special Press Court.36 of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”30 Other provisions prohibit insulting Islam or Internet “publications” that do not obtain senior religious authorities.31 a license under the Press Law, however, are subject to the stricter general laws of The application of this law to Web sites the Penal Code and come under the and blogs in Iran has been contested. An jurisdiction of the general courts. The amendment to the Press Law in 2000 Penal Code incorporates content-based appears to have brought electronic crimes such as propaganda against the publications under the aegis of the law.32 state and allows for the death penalty or In April 2009, another amendment to the imprisonment of up to five years for Press Law was passed by the Iranian speech deemed to be an “insult to parliament that could facilitate the religion.”37 Additional punishable offenses application of Press Law to online sources include creating “anxiety and unease in of content. The 2009 amendment the public’s mind,” spreading “false stipulates that, “the rules stated in this rumors,” or writing about “acts which are Press Law apply to domestic news sites not true.” Another provision criminalizes and domestic websites and set out their criticism of state officials. Cases heard in rights, responsibilities, legal protection, the general courts do not have the benefit crimes, punishments, judicial authority of a jury trial, which is used only in the and procedure for hearings.”33 This article, Press courts, increasing the risk for those which was rejected a year and a half ago that opt not to register their Web site or when proposed to the previous blog. parliament, was reportedly passed this time with strong pressure from the Both supporters and critics of the 2009 Ahmadinejad government.34 Given the amendment to the Press Law agree that ambiguous wording of the April 2009 implementing these new provisions is amendment to the Press Law, critics say beyond the capacity of current regulatory that personal Web sites and blogs may agencies. Critics suspect that the also fall within the new definition, allowing proximity of the law’s approval to the greater scope for inhibiting freedom of 2009 elections was linked to the expression on the Internet. The incumbent president’s desire to limit the 5
  6. 6. influence of reformist candidates in obscene content.46 A prior draft of the cyberspace.38 legislation included provisions that made ISPs criminally liable for content Authorities in Iran have struggled for many transmitted via their networks. These years with the challenges of regulating provisions have been removed from the speech on the Internet, complicated by latest draft of the Cybercrimes Bill. the relative ease of anonymous speech online and access to content hosted The role of different government agencies outside of the country. ISPs and in deciding on blocking, and the legality of subscribers are subject to prohibitions on doing so, has been a point of contention. twenty types of activities, among which The Internet Bureau of the Judiciary has insulting Islam and religious leaders and issued mandates to ISPs to block Web institutions, as well as fomenting national sites through court orders, which are discord and promoting drug use or considered a form of lawful punishment obscenity and immoral behaviors, are imposed on legal entities.47 Tehran prominent.39 In 2006, a directive of the Prosecutor General Saeed Mortazavi, who SCRC declared Web sites and blogs that has led harsh crackdowns on media and did not obtain a license from the MICG to has also been implicated in cases of be illegal.40 The MICG issued a notice in torture of detainees, including twenty-one January 2007 requiring registration by bloggers arrested in 2004, has also March 1, 2007. A Telecommunications ordered that certain sites be censored.48 Ministry official, however, indicated that enforcement was not feasible.41 The The legality of Iran’s filtering regime was number of blogs that have registered with brought into question following the the state is thought to be very low.42 blocking of the conservative online journal Baztab.com in February 2007. Baztab was Another key piece of legislation for made accessible inside Iran again after regulating online content in Iran is the Bill the Supreme Court of Iran ruled against of Cyber Crimes’ Sanctions (Cybercrimes the filtering of the Web site.49 This Bill) ratified into law in November 2008. incident sparked a debate within Iranian This bill was still under review by the legal and media circles over the authority Guardian Council at the time of writing.43 of the CCDUS, and whether as an The bill requires ISPs to ensure that executive body of government it was “forbidden” content is not displayed on improperly involved in making legislative their servers, that they immediately inform or judicial decisions.50 This debate did not law enforcement agencies of violations, forestall the eventual closing of the offices that they retain the content as evidence, of Baztab.51 and that they restrict access to the prohibited content.44 Under the Surveillance Cybercrimes Bill, ISPs that do not abide by Iran is reportedly investing in improving its government regulations (including filtering technical capacity to extensively monitor regulations) will be fined, and with the behavior of its citizens on the Internet. subsequent offenses temporarily or The routing of Internet traffic through permanently suspended.45 The bill also proxy servers offers the potential for includes provisions for the protection and monitoring and logging essentially all disclosure of confidential data and unencrypted Web traffic, including e-mail, information as well as the publishing of instant messaging and browsing. The 6
  7. 7. architecture of the Iranian Internet is rights organizations and political particularly conducive to widespread opposition parties. surveillance as all traffic from the dozens of ISPs serving households is routed Filtering in Iran is implemented by routing through the state-controlled all public Internet traffic through proxy telecommunications infrastructure of TCI. servers. This allows the employment of The MICT, when announcing the creation filtering software to target specific Web of a centralized filtering system, indicated pages as well as the blocking of keywords. that they would keep a record of Web sites The blocking of Web sites is carried out in visited by users. A later statement denied a transparent manner in Iran; a blockpage that this infrastructure would be used for is displayed to users that attempt to tracking browsing habits and identifying access a blocked site with a warning to users.52 users that they are not permitted to access a particular Web site. The In 2008, two European companies blockpages, which vary by ISP, generally reportedly sold a sophisticated electronic include a contact e-mail address for users surveillance system capable of monitoring that might wish to contact the filtering Internet use that could be utilized for administrators to question or contest the tracking and monitoring the online blocking of a Web site. activities of human rights organizations and political dissidents. TCI is said to have A noteworthy recent development in Iran’s received the equipment from Nokia filtering regime is the implementation of a Siemens Networks, a joint venture centralized filtering regime. Historically, between the Finnish cell phone maker and there has been substantial variation in the German company Siemens.53 blocking across different ISPs, with Women’s rights activists reported that several ISPs filtering fewer Web sites than they were shown transcripts of instant TCI and thereby offering a more messaging sessions by authorities after permissive view of the Internet.55 This their arrest, which, if true, would support variation in access to Web sites was the the existence of an advanced surveillance result of differences in the implementation program.54 of government filtering instructions by ISPs. This differential filtering practice has ONI testing results now been effectively replaced by a ONI conducted testing in 2008 and 2009 uniform filtering pattern with the on five ISPs in Iran: ITC, Gostar, implementation of the supplementary Parsonline, Datak and Sepanta. The centralized filtering system. The vestiges testing results confirm that Iran has of the ISP-based system, however, are still continued to consolidate its position as apparent: the source of filtering is evident one of the most extensive filterers of the by the blockpage that appears, which in Internet. Iran consistently filters a broad some cases comes from the respective range of Web sites that are offensive to ISPs and in other cases from a standard the moral standards of Iran’s religious blockpage issued by TCI. It is unclear what leadership. Internet censors in Iran have the long-term structure of the filtering moved decisively against a number of system will be. Options include continuing political targets over the past two years, with the current dual location filtering including women’s rights groups, human system or switching to either a system in which all filtering is carried out at a central 7
  8. 8. point or to a distributed but centrally for president, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had coordinated filtering system. Regardless of been using Facebook for political the method chosen for implementation, it organizing.56 Ahmadinejad has since appears that Iran is firmly on the path denied any involvement in the decision to towards a centralized filtering system block Facebook.57 The blocking of the under the control of the government, as popular social network Web site was carried out in Saudi Arabia, for example. reversed several days later after strong popular opposition to the blocking in The Iranian filtering system continues to Iran,58 but the site, along with the sites of strengthen and deepen. In addition to major opposition candidates and several targeting “immoral” content on the pro-reform sites, was blocked again during Internet, independent and dissenting the June 2009 presidential elections.59 voices are filtered across a range of Facebook had been blocked in the past: issues, including political reform, criticism ONI testing showed that it was blocked in of the government, reporting on human fall 2008, with access to the Web site rights issues, and minority and women’s allowed again in February 2009.60 rights. A notable change in the scope of filtering in Iran over the past several years The role of speech restrictions in the has been an expansion of political filtering political realm are also evident in the and blocking of human rights guidelines passed down from SCRC to organizations, particularly targeting the CCDUS in April 2009 that define allowable women’s rights movement in Iran. speech during the 2009 presidential Blocking orders issued by CCDUS in May elections for Web sites and ISPs. These 2008 added many new Web sites to the guidelines outlined twenty categories of blocking lists. This included numerous prohibited speech, including “disrupting Web sites and blogs of women’s rights national unity” and “creating negative and human rights activists in addition to feelings forwards the Islamic several well-known journalists, including government.”61 www.roozmaregiha2.blogfa.com and pargas1.blogfa.com. Women’s rights Web Independent media Web sites offered only sites in Farsi, such as www.we-change.org in English are inconsistently blocked, and feministschool.com, are consistently though a number of prominent Western blocked in Iran. news Web sites have been blocked in Iran. The HuffingtonPost and the website for Al- A prominent and recent example of Arabiya (alarabiya.net) are blocked in Iran. targeted political filtering is the blocking in The New York Times, available in May February 2009 of www.yaarinews.ir, a 2009, has been blocked on several Web site created for the planned election occasions in the past. Global Voices, an campaign of former president Mohammad international blog aggregator, was blocked Khatami. A Web site of the reformist in May 2009. The Web sites of numerous coalition, www.baharestaniran.com, was international free speech organizations blocked in March 2008. The blocking of are blocked, including rsf.org, epic.org, Facebook in May 2009 has proven to be citizenlab.org and eff.org. The Web sites of particularly controversial in Iran. Many Amnesty International and the OpenNet believe that supporters of President Initiative were not blocked in May 2009. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were behind the blocking orders, as a Reformist candidate 8
  9. 9. A higher proportion of independent media been restored.64 Technorati.com and Web sites in Farsi are blocked compared boingboing.com are also blocked. to English language content. Though the English version of the BBC’s web site In the fall of 2008, ONI tested a sample of (www.bbc.co.uk) was not blocked until the approximately 8,800 blogs, drawing the June 2009 elections,62 the BBC’s Persian sample from those blogs in the Farsi service (www.bbc.co.uk/persian) was blogosphere with the highest number of blocked soon after its launch in January links to one another.65 Of these, 2009. The introduction of this new approximately 9 percent were found to be broadcast station was condemned by the blocked by TCI. A majority of the blogs that Iranian government and declared to be were blocked are associated with secular illegal.63 Iranian.com, roozonline.com, and politics and reformist viewpoints. radiozamaneh.com are among the However, blogs from the conservative and independent sources of news and opinion religious segments of the blogosphere that are blocked in Iran. were blocked as well, several of which apparently included content deemed to be The popular Farsi social networking and too extreme. Further ONI analysis carried independent news Web site, out over a sample of filtered and Balatarin.com, was blocked in 2007, unfiltered blogs displays a systematic reportedly for a user-contributed post with targeting of blogs with oppositional views a link to a Web site that included a rumor but with substantial inconsistency; many of the death of Supreme Leader Ali blogs with solidly dissident views remain Hoseyni Khamenei. Strident objections by unblocked, while other blogs without users to the blocking of Balatarin were not controversial content are blocked. successful in reversing the blocking decision, and Balatarin continues to be Several popular social networking Web blocked. sites are blocked in Iran, including MySpace.com and Orkut.com. Prior to The Web sites of several ethnic and being blocked, Orkut was highly popular in religious minorities are blocked in Iran, Iran. Among the more prominent social including those associated with the Baha’i media Web sites, Flickr.com, faith and Kurdish movements. Web sites www.bebo.com, www.metacafe.com, that are critical of Islam are widely www.photobucket.com and delicious.com blocked. A higher proportion of Web sites are all blocked. YouTube.com, one of the in Farsi related to religious and minority most popular destinations for Iranian rights are blocked compared to those in Internet users, was available in May 2009 English. after several episodes of blocking in the past, though it was blocked during the The blocking of blogs in Iran is focused June 2009 elections.66 primarily on individual blogs. However, several blog hosting services are blocked Consistent with one of the stated in their entirely, including objectives of Iran’s filtering policy, www.livejournal.com and www.xanga.com. pornographic content is heavily filtered. Persian-language blog host Iran is highly successful in blocking www.blogfa.com was down for several pornography, blocking a vast majority of days during the June 2009 elections; at the Web sites tested by ONI. Sites that the time of writing service had not yet include photographs depicting provocative 9
  10. 10. attire are also consistently blocked. Esmail Conclusion Radkani, of Iran’s quasi-official Iran continues to strengthen the legal, Information Technology Company, claimed administrative and technical aspects of its in an interview in September 2006 that Internet filtering systems. The Internet ten million Web sites were filtered at that censorship system in Iran is one of the time, 90 percent of which contained most comprehensive and sophisticated in “immoral” content.67 Anther official was the world. Advances in domestic technical quoted in November 2008 saying that five capacity have contributed to the million Web sites were blocked in Iran.68 implementation of a centralized filtering Given the large number of Web sites with strategy and a reduced reliance on sexual content blocked in Iran, neither of Western technologies. Despite the deeply those estimates is implausible. held commitment to regulating Internet content, authorities continue to be The filtering of material related to sexuality challenged in their attempts to control extends as well to Web sites offering online speech. Political filtering related to content related to sexual education. the 2009 presidential campaign, including Approximately half of the dating Web sites the blocking of Facebook and several tested by ONI were found to be blocked in opposition party Web sites, brought Iran. ONI testing also found significant renewed attention to the role of filtering in blocking of content related to Iran. homosexuality, particularly if it had any connection to Iran. A number of Web sites related to drugs, alcohol and gambling are blocked in Iran, although many remain unblocked. Web sites that offer tools and techniques for circumventing filters are also heavily filtered. Just as new Web sites with options for circumventing Internet filters are regularly offered by Internet users around the world, blocking lists in Iran are frequently updated to include these new Web sites. A great majority of Web sites offering information about and access to circumvention tools tested by ONI were blocked. The proxy server filtering strategy also permits filtering by keyword. Web searches that include the keyword “women” are still blocked in Iran. The word “sex” and a broad range of words related to sexual activity both in English and Farsi are blocked. The Farsi word for “photograph” is also blocked. 10
  11. 11. NOTES 8 John Kelly and Bruce Etling, “Mapping Iran’s Online Public: Politics and Culture in the 1 Peter Feuilherade, “Iran’s banned press Persian Blogosphere,” Berkman Center for turns to the net,” BBC News, August 9, Internet and Society, April 5, 2008, 2002, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/not_in_websit /2008/Mapping_Irans_Online_Public. e/syndication/monitoring/media_reports/ 9 Atieh Bahar Consulting, “Iran Telecom Brief,” 2183573.stm. October 20, 2008, 2 Human Rights Watch Report, “False http://www.atiehbahar.com/Resource.asp Freedom: Online Censorship in the Middle x?n=1000014. East and North Africa: Iran,” November 10 BBC Persian, “Speed reduced for high 2005, speed Internet in Iran,” October 20, 2006, http://hrw.org/reports/2005/mena1105/ http://www.bbc.net.uk/persian/science/s 5.htm#_Toc119125727. See also Clark tory/2006/10/061020_fb_rsh_adsl.shtm Boyd, “The price paid for blogging in Iran,” l. BBC News, February 21, 2005, 11 Ibid. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4 12 Robert Tait, “Iran bans fast internet to cut 283231.stm. west's influence,” The Guardian, October 3 “‫ ”,ﺁﯼﻥﺩ ﻡﯼ ﻭﺏﻝﺍﮒ ﻩﺯﺍﺭ ۰۱ ﺏﺍ ﻩﺍ ﺏﺱﯼﺝﯼ‬BBC 18, 2006, News (Persian), November 18, 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/20 http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2008 06/oct/18/news.iran. /11/081119_mg_basij_filtering.shtml. 13 Telecommunication Company of Iran, 4 David Bandurski, “China’s Guerilla War for “Performance Report,” September 2008, the Web,” Far Eastern Economic Review, http://irantelecom.ir/pdfs/amar/SEP_200 July 2008, 8.pdf. http://www.feer.com/essays/2008/augus 14 Ibid. t/chinas-guerrilla-war-for-the- 15 Mehr News, “Criticism of the minister of web?searched=Bandurski&highlight=ajax communications’ statement in regards to Search_highlight+ajaxSearch_highlight1. internet speed,” May 25, 2008, 5 International Telecommunications Union, http://www.mehrnews.ir/NewsPrint.aspx? “ITU Internet Indicators 2000,” NewsID=689151. http://www.itu.int/ITU- 16 Iran CSOs Training & Research Center, “A D/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.as Report on the Status of the Internet in px?ReportName=/WTI/InformationTechno Iran,” November 8, 2005, logyPublic&RP_intYear=2000&RP_intLang http://www.genderit.org/upload/ad6d215 uageID=1. b74e2a8613f0cf5416c9f3865/A_Report 6 International Telecommunications Union, _on_Internet_Access_in_Iran_2_.pdf. “ITU Internet Indicators 2008,” 17 Information Technology Company, Ministry http://www.itu.int/ITU- of Information and Communication D/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.as Technology, px?ReportName=/WTI/InformationTechno http://www.itc.ir/Portal/Home/ShowPage. logyPublic&RP_intYear=2008&RP_intLang aspx?Object=GENERALTEXT&CategoryID= uageID=1. b518fb25-587d-4c16-9520- 7 International Telecommunications Union, 9d3f1d3a24ae&LayoutID=372f2627- “ITU Internet Indicators 2008,” 7ccb-40fa-b30a-7a128ef777a5. http://www.itu.int/ITU- 18 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, D/icteye/Reporting/ShowReportFrame.as translation at px?ReportName=/WTI/InformationTechno http://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/ir00000_. logyPublic&RP_intYear=2008&RP_intLang html. uageID=1. 11
  12. 12. 19 Iran CSOs Training & Research Center, “A March 2, 2006, Report on the Status of the Internet in http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,A Iran,” November 8, 2005, RT19,,IRN,,475e4e270,0.html. http://www.genderit.org/upload/ad6d215 30 Article 6, Press Law of the Islamic Republic b74e2a8613f0cf5416c9f3865/A_Report of Iran, _on_Internet_Access_in_Iran_2_.pdf. http://www.parstimes.com/law/press_law 20 Ibid. .html. 21 Ibid. 31 Articles 26 and 27, Press Law of the Islamic 22 Information Technology Company, “The Republic of Iran, important events of communications http://www.parstimes.com/law/press_law technology in 2008,” March 25, 2009, .html. http://www.itc.ir/Portal/Home/ShowPage. 32 Note 2 of Article 1 of Iran’s Press Law (as aspx?Object=News&ID=52d93a02-e5ce- amended in on April 18, 2000) defines 4353-9ba6- electronic publications as “publications 50c4eb97eb34&LayoutID=db2099c4- regularly published under a permanent 7b41-414c-a965- name, specific date and serial number … 1b4ec4da6584&CategoryID=8e9c4343- on different subjects such as news, 3ea3-41f0-a025-0cca398f147f. commentary, as well as social, political, 23 Iranian Technology News Agency, economic, agricultural, cultural, religious, http://www.itna.ir/archives/news/00991 scientific, technical, military, sports, 9.php. artistic matters, etc via electronic 24 OpenNet Initiative, “Internet Filtering in Iran vehicles.” Publications must also have in 2004-2005: A Country Study,” obtained “publication licenses from the http://opennet.net/studies/iran2005. Press Supervisory Board in the Ministry of 25 Ibid. Cultural and Islamic Guidance,” otherwise 26 Iran ICT News, “Study of some of the they “fall out of the scope of the Press law shortcomings of the filtering system,” April and become subject to General Laws.” 7, 2006, 33 “‫ﻕﺍﻥﻭﻥ ﺍﺹﻝﺍﺡ ﺝﻥﺝﺍﻝﯼ ﻝﺍﯼﺡﻩ ﺕﺹﻭﯼﺏ‬ http://backdoor.iranictnews.ir/T_34469_ ‫( ﻡﺝﻝﺱ ﺩﺭ ﻡﻁﺏﻭﻉﺍﺕ‬Persian),” Deutsche ____%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%AE%DB%8C- Welle, April 15, 2009, http://www.dw- %D9%86%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%82%D8 world.de/dw/article/0,,4178392,00.html. %B5- 34 Ghalam News, “The new decision for the %D8%B3%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9 internet media by the parliament,” April %85- 15, 2009, %D9%81%DB%8C%D9%84%D8%AA%D8% http://www.ghalamnews.ir/news- B1%DB%8C%D9%86%DA%AF- 6261.aspx. %D8%B4%D8%B1%DA%A9%D8%AA- 35 Ibid. %D9%81%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%88%D8 36 Article 19, “Memorandum on Regulation of %B1%DB%8C- the Media in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” %D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8% March 2, 2006, B9%D8%A7%D8%AA.htm. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,A 27 Akhbar Rooz, “The big companies blocking RT19,,IRN,,475e4e270,0.html. the internet in Iran,” September 4, 2008, 37 Islamic Penal Code of Iran, May 22, 1996, http://www.akhbar- unofficial translation at rooz.com/news.jsp?essayId=16978. Also, http://mehr.org/index_islam.htm. Article see, for example, 500 states that “anyone who undertakes http://www.amnafzar.com. any form of propaganda against the state 28 Ibid. ... will be sentenced to between three 29 Article 19, “Memorandum on Regulation of months and one year in prison.” the Media in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” 12
  13. 13. 38 Ghalam News, “The new decision for the /iran14824.htm. See also Human Rights internet media by the parliament,” April Watch Report, “Like the Dead in Their 15, 2009, Coffins: Torture, Detention, and the http://www.ghalamnews.ir/news- Crushing of Dissent in Iran,” June 7, 2004, 6261.aspx. http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/torture/ir 39 Human Rights Watch Report, “False an/. Freedom: Online Censorship in the Middle 48 Information Technology News Agency East and North Africa: Iran,” November “Report of an ISP closure by judicial 2005, system agents,” http://hrw.org/reports/2005/mena1105/ http://www.itna.ir/archives/article/00066 5.htm. 5.php. 40 BBC Monitoring International Reports, citing 49 “Iran lifts ban on conservative web site,” text of report by E’temad-e Melli, “Iran The Age, March 20, 2007, press Iranian activists oppose regulation http://www.theage.com.au/news/Technol of websites, weblogs,” January 2, 2007. ogy/Iran-lifts-ban-on-conservative- See also Omid Memarian, “Bloggers rebel website/2007/03/20/1174153008276. at new censorship,” Inter Press Service html. News Agency, January 10, 2007, 50 Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnew Interview with Head of Iran Law Society, s=36123, reporting that prohibited February 16, 2007, content includes criticism of religious http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?I figures, sexual matters, content D=News-877388. considered offensive to the Ayatollah 51 “Offices of website closed,” International Khomeini, or content slanderous of Freedom of Expression Exchange, Islamic law. September 24, 2007, 41 BBC Monitoring International Reports, citing http://www.ifex.org/iran/2007/09/24/off text of report by E’temad-e Melli, “Iran ices_of_website_closed/. press Iranian activists oppose regulation 52 Bill Samii, “Iran: Government strengthens of websites, weblogs,” January 2, 2007. its control of the Internet,” Radio Free 42 One report puts the number of blog Europe, September 29, 2006, registrations at 850. http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006 43 The status of draft legislation is reported in /09/e6ed377e-7618-479d-8e0e- Farsi at b2917d6f9f92.html?napage=2. http://tarh.majlis.ir/?Report&RegId=121. 53 Eli Lake, “Fed contractor, cell phone maker 44 Cybercrimes Bill, Chapter 6, Article 23, sold spy system to Iran,” The Washington http://tarh.majlis.ir/?Download&Id=2288. Times, April 13, 2009, 45 Cybercrimes Bill, Chapter 6, Article 21, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2 http://tarh.majlis.ir/?Download&Id=2288. 009/apr/13/europe39s-telecoms-aid- 46 Cybercrimes Bill, Chapter 3: Articles 3 and with-spy-tech/print/. 4, 54 Ibid. http://tarh.majlis.ir/?Download&Id=2288. 55 OpenNet Initiative, “Internet Filtering in Iran 47 Information Technology News Agency, in 2006-2007: A Country Study,” May 9, “Report of an ISP closure by judicial 2007, system agents,” http://opennet.net/studies/iran2007. http://www.itna.ir/archives/article/00066 56 Najmeh Bozorgmehr, “Facebook sets tone 5.php (accessed April 30, 2007). See also in Iran’s electoral contest,” Financial Human Rights Watch Press Release, “Iran: Times, May 13, 2009, Prosecute Torturers, Not Bloggers,” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/da46ad4e- December 12, 2006, 3f19-11de-ae4f- http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/12/12 00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1. 13
  14. 14. 57 “Ahmadinejad denies calling for Facebook Organizing in Iran,” June 15, 2009, ban,” CNN, May 25, 2009, http://opennet.net/blog/2009/06/cracki http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meas ng-down-digital-communication-and- t/05/25/iran.ahmadinejad.facebook/. political-organizing-iran. 58 Ghalam News, “Facebook Unblocked” May 67 Interview with Esma’il Radkani, Iranian 26, 2009, Communication and Information http://www.ghalamnews.ir/news.aspx?id= Technology News Agency, September 11, 16014. 2006, http://citna.ir/435.html. 59 OpenNet Initiative, “Cracking Down on 68 “Two cyber-dissidents jailed, 5 million Digital Communication and Political websites censored,” Reporters Without Organizing in Iran,” June 15, 2009, Borders, November 20, 2008, http://opennet.net/blog/2009/06/cracki http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article ng-down-digital-communication-and- =29366. political-organizing-iran. 60 Golnaz Esfandiari, “Why Did Iran Unblock Facebook?,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 14, 2009, http://www.rferl.org/content/Why_Did_Ira n_Unblock_Facebook/1510005.html. 61 Aftab, “Sending the ‘not to do list’ to news,” April 7, 2009, http://www.aftab.ir/news/2009/apr/07/c 1c1239084884_politics_iran_election.ph p. 62 OpenNet Initiative, “Cracking Down on Digital Communication and Political Organizing in Iran,” June 15, 2009, http://opennet.net/blog/2009/06/cracki ng-down-digital-communication-and- political-organizing-iran. 63 “Iran blocks BBC Persian website,” BBC News, January 24, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/ 4644398.stm. 64 OpenNet Initiative, “Cracking Down on Digital Communication and Political Organizing in Iran,” June 15, 2009, http://opennet.net/blog/2009/06/cracki ng-down-digital-communication-and- political-organizing-iran. 65 For a description of the Persian blogosphere, see John Kelly and Bruce Etling, “Mapping Iran’s Online Public: Politics and Culture in the Persian Blogosphere,” Berkman Center for Internet and Society, April 5, 2008, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications /2008/Mapping_Irans_Online_Public. 66 OpenNet Initiative, “Cracking Down on Digital Communication and Political 14