BBC:  Iran’s leaders harness media power by Sebastian Usher  


The internet has provided a big challenge for the Iranian authorities in their efforts to control information.

It is now the main forum for dissident voices in Iran. Millions of Iranians have access to the internet and there are thousands of Iranian blogs.

In response, the government has adopted one of the most sophisticated internet censorship systems in the world - comparable to that used in China.

Only a handful of newspapers remain that voice alternative views to the conservative establishment

Officially, internet filtering is to block what the Iranian government sees as pornographic or immoral material. In practice, it also clearly tries to block sites with political content.

One of the reasons why the internet has become such an important medium for opposition or reformist voices in Iran is due to the crackdown on the press that hardliners have carried out in the past few years.

If a page on a political website takes a long time to load, the government may be “throttling” the bandwidth to a trickle.

Hear what the Citizen Media Law Project had to say on this topic:

Crash Diet: Text-Only Browsers as Tonic for Iranian Internet Throttling


For years, the Iranian government has had to deal with the pesky problem of citizens trying to use the Internet to access information from the outside world. The powers that be usually go about solving this problem in a hamfisted way, banning huge swaths of the internet or shutting down access entirely. But unsophisticated filters, that block searches as basic as “woman,” can and have been defeated by Iranians employing both proxy sites and anti-filtering software (interesting side note, one such package was authored by the Falun Gong.)

But the issue recently has become acute due to outcry over the latest “results” for the “election” of the next Iranian president, and the censors (like the Borg they are) have adapted. Now, the WSJ reports that the government appears to be “allowing the Internet to operate, albeit at a slower speed, while using a more centralized approach to blocking specific Web sites.” This cripple-not-kill approach has the advantage of allowing the government to “say it didn’t disconnect the Internet, but the reality is you can’t really use it.” Throttling the Internet seems like an ideal way of stifling use without dirtying your hands.

Newspapers, TV and Radio are Easy to Control

Governments can easily control the traditional media. They can appoint friends to high media positions, fire journalists, etc., but they can’t control the blogs. If you have to wait a little longer for that page to load, just remember that there are people who don’t want you to read it!