Monday, July 28, 2014


Persian Letters

Iran Announces New Restrictions For Internet Cafes

A woman surfs the Internet at a cybercafe in central Tehran.
A woman surfs the Internet at a cybercafe in central Tehran.
Iran's cyberpolice have issued new guidelines for Internet cafes that appear to be part of the Iranian establishment's efforts to tighten its control of the Internet.

According to the new rules, the personal information of citizens visiting cybercafes, such as their name, father's name, national ID number, and telephone number, will be registered. Cafe owners will be required to keep the personal and contact information of their clients and also a record of the websites and pages visited for six months.

Another new rule that has been announced requires cybercafe owners to install closed-circuit TV cameras and keep the video recordings for six months. The guidelines also say that installing circumvention tools that allow access to banned websites will be illegal at Internet cafes.

Deputy cyberpolice chief Mohsen Mirbehresi has said that owners of Internet cafes should deny Internet access to those who do not show their IDs. Internet cafes have 15 days to implement the restrictions, which were announced on January 3.

The cyberpolice force, which was launched last year, has said that the reason for the measures is that "citizens are concerned about theft of information" and security. Indeed, some of the new rules, including one that requires Internet cafes to delete user's personal browsing data from the computers used at the end of each working day, could lead to improved security.

But the guidelines, which have been put in place ahead of the March parliamentary elections, will also create a logbook that authorities can use to track down activists or whomever is deemed a threat to national security.

Iran has a record of threatening and arresting online activists and bloggers. Following the 2009 postelection protests, during which opposition activists used the Internet and social media to document the police crackdown, Iran's authorities appear to have increased their scrutiny of online activities.

Iranian leaders have warned that the soft war, which they say "enemies" (the United States) have launched to destabilize the Islamic republic and lead to its demise, is one of the greatest threats facing the country. A main tool they claim is being used in the conflict is the Internet, which -- despite Iran's tough censorship -- gives Iranians access to banned ideas and information and allows them to gather online and discuss taboo subjects.

An Iranian Internet?

The new restrictions for Internet cafes are being announced amid increased concern over Iran's stated plan to launch a national Internet.

An Iranian daily reported earlier this week that preparations for the launch of the national Internet are behind the significant decline in Internet speed that users have been complaining about recently. "Roozegar" claimed that the national Internet, which is being referred to as the "clean Internet," will be launched within two weeks. Some Internet users speculate that the launch of the national Internet will coincide with the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution.

But officials have so far not announced a roll-out date for the intranet, which they say will improve speed an security and be "halal," or pure.

Communications Minister Reza Taghipour was quoted as saying on January 4 that  the reason for the decline in Internet speed was "temporary problems," including what he described as an undersea cable cut in the Persian Gulf.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Puskin-- from: Canada
January 05, 2012 04:21
Of course the first wish of dictators is to cut off information to citizens-a classic and long known tactic. It seems that dictators folllow the same line-restrict information from citizens-and this is true for every country with dictators in every country in the world. This ploy has never failed to be instituted. It always suggest that dictators have something to hide from their citizens. Which is true-what they have to hid is the truth.
In Response

by: tolitz from: luzon
January 08, 2012 09:49
you are very right, it seems dictators never read history, what they read are things from past regimes to hold on power forever till they die (do they die??) ... no dictator in the world becomes so forever. their fall is nearer than they think.

by: Pushkin from: Canada
January 05, 2012 04:38
As typical of every dictator regime restricting infomation access to citizens is a favorite and typical ploy. All dictator governments have done the same and with good reason. An informed citizenry may learn the truth. That would not be good for the dictators who wish to keep citizens ill informed about world affairs. However, in 2012 the attempts are laughable and will not work any longer. A group of old and ignorant mullahs cannot keep it up much longer.

by: daniasmith from: india
January 05, 2012 10:48
Iran has demanded the release of seven of its nationals who were abducted last month in restive Syria http://bit.ly/wq1Ac4

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org

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