Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU staff

INU- In the latest example of the Iranian regime’s recurrent crackdown on access to the internet and social media within the country, the agency tasked with internet censorship set a two-month deadline for the government to either set up parameters for legal use of the photo-sharing site Instagram, or else block the service altogether.

The two-month period will supposedly give the regime time to contact the owners of Instagram and to find some way of filtering out all content that is deemed undesirable. This could include pornography and other material considered offensive by the religious government, but also anything perceived as insulting to the supreme leader or other officials, or anything identified as pro-Western propaganda.

These types of contents frequently lead to arrests of Iranian citizens who use other social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Some such communications can even be subject to the death penalty. Facebook and Twitter are both regularly banned in the Islamic Republic, although they are still used by many government officials including the supreme leader and the president, as well as by average Iranians who defy the ban through the use of proxy servers and other technical tricks.

For the time being, certain slightly lesser known social media applications remain accessible inside of Iran, but bans may be imminent for Viber, Tango, and WhatsApp, all of which were ordered blocked by the Iranian judiciary in September. WhatsApp received particular attention prior to that when in May Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, the head of the Committee on Internet Crimes announced that it would be banned because of its purchase by Facebook, which he described as being headed by “American Zionist” Mark Zuckerberg.

The current push for expanded internet censorship comes amidst an apparent trend towards reinforcing the fundamentalist principles of the Iranian government. This includes a move to invest greater power into civilian militias that are affiliated with the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps and tasked with intervening when people appear to violate religious laws or precepts.

Still more recently, hardline members of the Iranian parliament proposed subject people to fines in excess of 3,000 dollars and to 74 lashes for the supposedly pro-Western and anti-Islamic crime of owning a dog.

 

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