First Published: 2013-01-06

 

Tightly-controlled social media access to replace censorship in Iran

 

Iran is designing ‘intelligent software’ that would give citizens restricted, controlled access to banned social networking sites.

 

Middle East Online

Cyber intelligence bureau?

TEHRAN - Iran is designing "intelligent software" that would give citizens restricted and controlled access to banned social networking sites, local media Sunday quoted police chief Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam as saying.

"Smart control of social networks will not only avoid their disadvantages, but will also allow people to benefit from their useful aspects," Ahmadi Moghadam said, as cited by the 7Sobh daily.

"The designing of intelligent software to control social networking websites" is underway, he added.

Facebook, Twitter and many other social websites are blocked by an official filtering mechanism as part of Iran's strict Internet censorship.

But many web users in Iran, where half of the 75-million population is connected to the Internet, have found ways around the blocks through sophisticated software known as VPN despite it being declared illegal in Iran.

Ahmadi Moghadam hinted that the new software would allow Iranians to have limited access to social networks.

"Smart control of social networks is better than filtering them completely," he said, without elaborating.

His comments came after the launch in mid-December of a Facebook page dedicated to the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attracted a great deal of attention at home and abroad.

Authorities regularly warn Iranians against the dangers of social websites, arguing they are part of a Western-backed plot to undermine the Islamic regime.

Iran launched a "cyber police" unit in 2011 to confront anti-regime conduct online. But the death of blogger Sattar Beheshti in its custody in November provoked an international outcry, leading to the dismissal of its chief after an official inquiry.

Iran is also working on establishing a national intranet that it says will be clean of un-Islamic content. Authorities claim the "National Internet" would not cut access to the Internet.

Social networks and websites such as the video-sharing hub YouTube were used in organising street protests after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Several activists, bloggers and journalists are reported to have been arrested due to their posts and comments on social networks.

The United States accuses Iran of maintaining an "electronic curtain" to cut its citizens off from the world.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli