Iran cracks down on Internet as parliamentary elections near
By Rizwan Khatik - Mon Jan 09, 2:14 pm
As Iran nears its March 2 parliamentary elections, Tehran is adding new surveillance measures over its citizens’ Internet freedoms. In a briefing on Friday, the Department of State, said that the move will cut Iranian citizens off from the “global conversation.” The announcement comes as Iranian authorities work to develop a national intranet, which would effectively replace the World Wide Web for Iranians.
Iran “issued regulations giving Internet cafes 15 days to install security cameras [and] start collecting detailed personal information on customers and document users’ online footprints,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, calling the crackdown Iran’s “most sweeping move” yet. The rules also require users to furnish personally-identifying information in order to log on to the Internet at the cafes, including the user’s “name, father’s name, address, telephone and national identification numbers.”
The text of the regulation reads that the rules “are aimed at promoting transparency and organization for Internet businesses and offer more protection against online abuse.”
In 2009, Tehran created a 250,000-strong Cyber Police task force to monitor the Internet. The creation of two Cyber War centers that employ 2,000 Cyber Army staff was announced in October by Gen. Hossein Hamedani, the Revolutionary Guard commander in Tehran.
Business owners are upset that the regulation will hurt business, and student activists against the current regime are afraid that the government is closing in on them and acting to make it more difficult for dissidents to communicate with the outside world, the Wall Street Journal reported.
During Iran’s 2009 elections, the world watched on Twitter as protestors took to the streets of Tehran over what many perceived to be a stolen election. Pictures and video capturing the state’s violent suppression of the protests were uploaded to the social network. One infamous video posted to the Internet during the protests depicts a woman bleeding to death after she had reportedly been shot through the chest by a sniper.