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.

 

UN Security Council calls for Polisario pullback from Guerguerat

UK warns of ‘increased level of terrorist activity’

Merkel warns EU-Turkey ties 'severely hit' by Ankara developments

Pope Francis flies to Egypt as 'pilgrim of peace'

420 tonnes of plastic bags seized in year in Morocco since ban

Erdogan to rejoin Turkey ruling party next week

Germany urges EU not to break off Turkey accession talks

OPCW says chemical weapons allegedly used 45 times in Syria

Netanyahu slams German foreign minster as 'insensitive'

Erdogan hopes for 'new page' with US under Trump

UN envoy to Libya to visit Sudan for peace talks

Tunisian PM booed out of town hall meet

Russian spy ship sinks off Turkish coast

London police arrest ‘terror act’ knifeman by parliament

Palestinians strike in support of protesting prisoners

Two Saudi soldiers killed in rocket attack near Yemen border

German soldier plots attack under refugee disguise

Iraq forces retake town of Hatra from IS

Syria accuses Israel of strike near Damascus airport

10 dead after strikes on rebel-held hospitals in Syria

Turkey’s AKP to hold special congress readmitting Erdogan

EU reviews Libya request for naval equipment

Jail terms over death of Moroccan fishmonger

UN appoints Syrian Olympic swimmer as ambassador

Bahraini activist on hunger strike behind bars

Calls on Saudi social media for jobless protest

Tunisian coastguards no match for high-speed smugglers

US wants 'strong, democratic' Turkey: ambassador

Israeli tank trades shots with Hamas in Gaza

Syria says France 'hiding truth' about chemical attack

NATO chief warns Turkey to respect ‘rule of law’

Exiled Turkish journalist urges EU to confront Erdogan

Mass funeral for dozens slain in Syria bus attack

Qatar insists Baghdad had ‘full knowledge’ of hostage deal

UN eyes new Yemen peace talks

Erdogan resumes Gulen arrests after referendum win

Turkey opposition heads to European court to challenge referendum

Turkey says informed US, Russia prior to Kurdish strikes

Iraqi forces liberate ancient city of Hatra from IS

Saudi fire stops explosives-laden boat from Yemen

50 Syria migrants stranded on Morocco-Algeria border

Libya asks EU for patrol boats to stem migrant wave

Bangladesh approves Saudi-funded mosque project

German Chancellor regrets Israel snub of foreign minister

Global leaders call for ridding world 'forever' of chemical arms