The New Political Tools
- Internet use in Iran continues to increase at a fast pace. The number of Internet users in Iran has grown from less than 1 million in 2000 to about 28 million, or 38 percent of the population, in 2009.
- The Persian blogosphere is considered one of the most active in the world. The number of active bloggers includes approximately 60,000 routinely updated blogs, according to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
- The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the arm of the state most involved in Internet control and filtering.
- The Iranian filtering system continues to strengthen and deepen. In addition to targeting “immoral” content on the Internet, independent and dissenting voices are filtered across a range of issues, including political reform, criticism of the government, reporting on human rights issues and minority and women’s rights.
- Secular/reformist, which includes famous dissidents usually living outside Iran
- Conservative/religious, which includes bloggers supportive of the regime and the Islamic revolution
- Persian poetry and literature, which contribute to Persian poetry as an important form of cultural expression
- And mixed networks, which include discussions about sports and many other topics.
- All Internet Service Providers in Iran are routed through a central hub owned by a company under the command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. This allows the government to monitor, filter, slow or shut off all Internet in the country.
- The IRGC formed a “Cyber Defense Command” in 2009, which is responsible for monitoring potentially subversive Internet activity.
- Monitoring and filtering the Internet is enshrined through law, which mandates that all users’ browsing data must be stored for three months.
- Methods of the government’s Internet control and monitoring include technical filtering of the Internet to prevent access to specific types of information by identifying specific keywords, domain names and web addresses deemed to be subversive; intercepting email to identify and monitor dissidents; and hacking blogs and websites, which can disrupt and shutdown sites.
- Internet use continues to increase annually in Iran, despite government restrictions.
- Iranian activists outside the country are working to encourage technology firms and governments to make available advanced tools to counter state censorship.
- These tools include a hardened satellite to host Iranian channels. This would enable effective Persian news services, such as the BBC Persian Service and Voice of America, to escape the authorities’ routine jamming efforts.
- Activists are also working to facilitate the provision of high-speed Internet. Because the regime deliberately slows the Internet, making alternative satellites available – aside from those used by the regime – could allow Iranians to have access to high-speed Internet.
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"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
The world’s most comprehensive website on Iran, “The Primer” brings together 50 experts—Western and Iranian—in concise chapters on politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and the nuclear program. It chronicles events under six U.S. presidents. It also has leader bios, timelines, data on nuclear sites—and context for what lies ahead. Click here for a hardcopy. New articles are added at the top.