Here’s a novel approach to the internet, rather than attempting to block every Western site and their ideals towards freedom the Iranian government announced on Monday that it will create a “clean internet” by establish a country wide “intranet” program.
The new program will replace many American services such as Gmail and Google Plus with state-sponsored sites such as Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine, both which allow the government to more easily spy on users while censoring what content they are able to access.
Iran started moving towards a closed network after Twitters “Day Of Rage” protests targeted the countries government and led to massive protests and headaches for the countries central figures. In one case a man who was jailed was able to send a message via YouTube. read more
Though there are ways around most of these Internet blocks, few within the countries impacted have the means and ability to do so, making those blocks, for the most part, at least somewhat effective at limiting communication.
But blocking goes well beyond countries. Though less nefarious in nature, many companies and households also use blocking technology to restrict who can access certain sites. Whether the goal is to increase employee productivity or prevent minors from access adult content, the results are often the same.
So is your site being blocked? Are people who might want to visit your site barred from accessing it and, if so, what can be done about it? Here’s a quick look at the current web filtering landscape and what it means for your site. read more
Known mostly for sentencing critics of the government to jail, Iran for the most part has displayed a very hostile attitude towards bloggers (not to mention the twittersphere as well).
But what about bloggers who not only condone the Iranian government, but praise it as well? Unfortunately it seems that lip service alone will not save you.
An Iranian court sentenced the founder of one of the first Farsi-language blogs, credited with sparking the boom in Iranian reform bloggers, to more than 19 years in prison for his writings, a news web site reported Tuesday.
Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, 35, was a controversial figure among Iran’s blogging community. Writing his blog from Canada, he was initially a critic of Iran’s clerical leadership, and in 2006 he visited Israel — Iran’s archenemy — saying he wanted to act as a bridge between the two countries’ peoples.
But he later became a vocal supporter of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising him for standing up to the West and criticizing regime opponents. (Fox News)
Yael (from Israel) was able to meet Derakhshan in person and from her encounters was “convinced that he was an Iranian agent.” Other bloggers (even ones from Iran) seemed to have a similar attitude, which is why many are surprised by Derakshan’s sentence.
While it may seem strange for Iran to jail a proponent of their regime, it should not come as a surprise as the government has been known to jail apolitical bloggers without cause (aside from the fact that they own a blog).
Derakhshan imprisonment probably goes to show that the Iranian government sees bloggers as a threat (and not as an asset), which probably means that Iranian bloggers need to exercise more caution when blogging in hostile countries.
The situation in Iran continues to be widely discussed on Twitter, with Iran as the number one trending topic, and #iranelection as number two. It goes downhill from there… Anyway, Sedef Onder needed Iran to understand the importance of Twitter. She blogs about it at DigitalNext, wrapping up like this:
I daresay Twitter is starting to grow up. And though it’s taken some getting used to for a skeptical Twitter user of a couple of years now, I’m feeling a bit like a proud parent. Here’s hoping we’ll continue to see similarly inspiring uses of social media, whether for more effective marketing to new customers, or for plain ole’ communication sake. Tweets have finally come of age.
That got me thinking. What if the disastrous events in Iran is exactly what Twitter needed to take the next big step? Not just tech industry approval, but old media approval as well? I know, I know, it’s a cynical way of viewing things, but sometimes world events can spark things. And I think it just did. We’ll see more journalists on Twitter from now on.
You might also be interested in the collected stories about Iran by GlobalVoices, frequently updated on a geographical level. Also, this BusinessWeek story (Techmeme discussion) claims that social media hasn’t been instrumental in getting Iranian protesters to the street, SMS texting and word of mouth has been. Hardly surprising, but the #iranelection buzz almost made it sound like that was the only means of communication at one time, which of course was never the case.
These are the words of NYU professor Clay Shirky, on what is happening in Iran right now:
I’m always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that … this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted “the whole world is watching.” Really, that wasn’t true then. But this time it’s true … and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They’re engaging with individual participants, they’re passing on their messages to their friends, and they’re even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can’t immediately censor. That kind of participation is reallly extraordinary.
From an interview on the Twitter and Iran topic, with the TED blog, where he also says that Twitter sparks the heaviest punch and has a bunch of other intelligent things to say. As usual in Shirky Land of course.
Twitter is back after the delayed planned maintenance, and they are now back online as most of you have probably noticed already. No problems have been reported, so we can assume that all went well. Meanwhile, the rescheduling of the planned maintenance of the service might in part have been influenced by the US State Department, according to a Reuters report. Biz Stone comments this in a blog post:
However, it’s important to note that the State Department does not have access to our decision making process. Nevertheless, we can both agree that the open exchange of information is a positive force in the word.
For more on Iran, see the #iranelection hashtag. Unconfirmed reports are coming in (via Twitter of course) that Iran is filtering out said hashtag, so you might want to try someotherones as well.
Twitter is one, if not the, information source and communication tool for what is happening in Iran right now, post-election. While some blogs, like Sheherazade in Blue Jeans, do their best to cover what is happening, others are not so lucky. According to Reuters, Iran has banned foreign media journalist from leaving their offices, stopping the from covering the protests on the streets of Tehran.
The Culture Ministry said journalists could continue to work from their offices but that it was cancelling press accreditation for all foreign media.
“No journalist has permission to report or film or take pictures in the city,” a Culture Ministry official told Reuters.
And now Twitter’s provider, NTT America, has rescheduled downtime to ensure that the service isn’t unavailable when needed. A very appealing move, no matter what reasons the cynics might think of.
In the latest move, Tehran prosecutor general Said Mortazavi announced yesterday that the “special prosecutor’s department for Internet crimes” will henceforth work directly with the intelligence services.
They also adds:
The organisation added: “The creation of a special prosecutor’s department for Internet crimes is part of a broader project by the authorities designed not only to monitor online content but also to impose extremely severe sentences, including the death penalty, for Internet crimes. We deplore this department’s increased power, which is a formidable repressive tool and an excellent way to get people to censor themselves.”