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Tehran Casts A Cold Eye Over U.S. Shadow Internet Efforts

Iran has slammed U.S. attempts to undermine its stringent Internet censorship.
Iran has slammed U.S. attempts to undermine its stringent Internet censorship.
Iran has warned the United States over efforts to deploy shadow Internet services in repressive countries such as the Persian Gulf state, where the Internet is heavily censored, and said it would lead to a backlash against the U.S.

The global effort by the Obama administration to circumvent Internet censorship was reported on June 12 by the New York Times:

"The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy 'shadow' Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.
"The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

Asked on June 14 about the report, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Internet savvy Muslims could strike back against the United States:

“We think they [the United States] have entered into an issue that can end up as a very strong current against themselves. People in different regions and Muslims in our region have a high knowledge of IT. If they want to bring the war scene to the cyberspace and get involved in Cyber war, we’ll see whether they would be the winners or whether they would face an even bigger defeat, like in all the other areas where they have already got involved."
The New York Times story was picked up and posted on many Iranian news websites who described it as a “psychological operation” by the Obama administration to create unrest and topple its adversaries.

The “IranNuc” website, which focuses on issues dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, said in a report that several (unnamed) “experts” have expressed doubt over the US claims while adding that the effort to deploy shadow Internet services is more of a propaganda scheme than a real operation:

“Essentially, from a technical point of view, providing free wireless Internet on such a large scale that it would encompass all of Iran's geographical space, while not impossible, is very difficult to [achieve].”

The “IranNuc” report also said that the same experts believe the main aim of the project is to spy on Iranian Internet users and Iran in general:

“Such a network would be used more than anything else to serve intelligence gathering by the United States.”

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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