Digital Warfare - You Tube in Iran : blocked
As Associated press reported last week, a number of censoring measures have been adopted in these days in Iran to restrict the use of the Internet.
Last Tuesday, the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube.com was blocked and users who tried to call it up came across the message, “On the basis of the Islamic Republic of Iran laws, access to this Web site is not authorized”. A similar message, appears on all the opposition and pornographic Web sites the government blocks.
Paradoxically, Google video is still working.
We can hardly say how long You Tube had been on the Iranian Government blacklist but according to Reporters Without Borders it had been blocked for the last 9 days: “censorship is now the rule rather that the exception,” they commented.
The reason why Iranian Government decided to block the web site wasn’t officially released, but according to some journalists, the ban is a response to a recent online video, which shows a famous Iranian soap opera star indulging in 'indecent behaviour' with her ex-boyfriend.
On the other hand, according to a group of activists fighting for media rights, this decision should have been due to a series of videos from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and other Iranian opposition groups that were posted on YouTube.com, along with videos posted by individual Iranians critical of the regime.
The site also has Iranian pop music videos, which are considered as “corrupting” by the religious leadership.
According to the opinion of several journalists working in that region, it is just like Iran is trying to create a digital border to block any news and cultural trend coming from abroad. Specifically, Iranian government is carrying out a sort of campaign to protect the country from the influence of western music, movie, images, etc.. Anyway, western new websites are generally available whereas blogs and local web pages carrying “unauthorized messages” are regularly blocked.
As usually, the real problem is not the trouble that the shut down of some websites could provoke, because skilled internet users know how to gain access to unauthorised web pages by using a series of tools that are available for free in the Net.
The real problem is about the fact that any form of expression that could be slightly in contrast with the Government’s vision, is immediately blocked, and the “perpetrators” persecuted.
Not only the Internet is censored, indeed: both under president Kahatami and under his follower, president Ahmadinejad, many newspapers and magazines have been shut down. Just a few of them still exist and any criticism against Government is self-censored for fear of the consequences.
Iran has about 7.5 million internet surfers, the highest number of web users in the Middle East after Israel. The country also has more than 100,000 bloggers, some of which are substitutes for Iran's suppressed, reformist press.
-From the net