Monday, February 13, 2012

Iran: Internet Blackout

More than 30 million Iranian internet users have been unable to access their e-mail accounts since Feb. 9 state-run Mehr news agency reported.

* Services hit included email, social networking

* Experts say Iranian government testing new network

* More restricted network may extend surveillance reach

While Iranian authorities have been silent, some bloggers speculate that the reason for the blocking is a planned protest on February 14 (in the Iranian calendar, 25 Bahman). The Tuesday protests will mark the one year anniversary of demonstrations called by Iranian opposition leaders in 2011, in solidarity with the people's uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. The Internet and social media access fueled several recent uprisings, including last year's Arab Spring. The blockage involved SSL sites. One Iranian official tossed off the incident as "an experiment" involving a new national system of controlling the flow of information via the internet.

Iranian officials say they will not block all connections to the outside world from the new system ... they say the new network could help Iran ward off spying or attacks from other countries and keep a closer eye on domestic activities... Other sources in the Gulf report that the Iranian government has said for some months that it is preparing to launch a “national Internet” that reportedly would exclude almost all non-Iranian or non-Muslim websites.

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