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The Internet has no place in Khamenei’s vision for Iran’s future

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Internet has no place in Ayatollah Khamenei’s vision for Iran’s future

Saye Isfahani

“Can you hear me? Mom, can you hear me?” When the call resumes, he talks about the unwelcome presence of the Islamic Republic in the lives of all Iranians. This time it came in the form of a choppy internet.

Over the past few weeks, authorities have said,update” into the online censorship machine.This censorship giant already cut Access to nearly all international news sources and all major social media platforms (except Instagram), as Iranians are viewed as an enemy weapon by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In his February speech, Khamenei warned about The enemy’s ‘hybrid war’ against ‘Islam and the Islamic Republic’ and the ‘enemy’ (presumably the US) using ‘its media empire’ and social media to attempt a ‘distorting and destroying onslaught’ of the clergy thing. probability. The Supreme Leader has called on the authorities to launch an “enlightenment jihad” to bring war to the “enemy”.

It wasn’t the first or last time the 83-year-old leader described social media as a weapon.Over the years, Khamenei have consistently raised their voices His opposition to what the Iranians have “unrestricted” access to the internet.he has gone far set up The Supreme Council of Cyberspace, ruled by a security agency without public oversight, “regulates” the online space and formulates Iran’s Internet policy.

About 30 years later, iran connection Khamenei rushes to impose the digital iron veil he has always dreamed of.

upgrade to censor machine

In Iran, the number of Internet subscription Iran has a population of over 83 million, as Iranians use multiple mobile and landline services to connect to the internet.

Most of the country is connected to the internet, but the Islamic Republic blocks access to much of it.Therefore, about 80% of Iranians It relies on censorship evasion tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxies for web surfing.

Since mid-June, the Islamic Republic has roll out The new censorship machine actively targets VPNs via Domain Name System (DNS) hijacking, a method often used by scammers.

DNS works like a phone book, allowing users to access the web domains they need. Hackers, in this case the Islamic Republic, manipulate this phone book to deny users access to specific addresses or direct them to bogus destinations. Using this method, states are disrupting access to popular services like Instagram, the only international social media platform not banned in the country.

The government uses the same method Control access to Google Search engine. When an Iranian of any age attempts to visit Google.com, their Internet traffic is redirected to the following URL: http://forcesafesearch.google.comonly displays age-appropriate content intended for children under the age of 13.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Isa Zarepour defended The move says the government has only restricted “easy access” to “immoral and violent” content in response to “repeated requests from families.”

At the same time, states are employing intrusion methods such as deep packet inspection (DPI) to target cryptographic protocols. Encryption tools protect the privacy of Iranians by converting online communications into hard-to-break codes. Clerics have historically disliked encryption because the technology blinds prying eyes. criminalized since 2009In the new campaign, the organization simply interferes with the delivery of encrypted packets. This caused WhatsApp video calls to be choppy, as was mine, but the Meta-owned messaging service is not blocked in Iran.

As if all these intrusive measures weren’t enough, the government of hardline President Ebrahim Raisi online caste system That is first introduced under his moderate predecessor Hassan Rouhani. The system ranks users based on their occupation and proximity to power centers and provides them with varying levels of Internet access.This system has at least 2018 Hired by a journalist close to the organization, spread false information On blocked social media platforms such as Twitter, especially social unrest.

new reign of terror

Whenever the Islamic Republic gets bogged down in its foreign policy and faces external threats, it immediately prepares repression machines at home.

The 2015 nuclear deal is expected to be reinstated dimming, economy collapse,in progress food When water crisis, Simmering Public DiscontentWhen Growing social unrestthe clergy ruling class appears to be preparing for another reign of terror similar to the 1980s. summarily executed.

In his June 28 speech, Khamenei alluded to that dark ageHe told judicial authorities that power is a “sacred blessing” that “must not be used and wasted”, that it is impervious to public opinion and that it will be merciless to all forms of “dissent” and online freedom. He called for crackdowns to begin.

Executive power is in the hands of President Raisi. suspect in crime Anti-humanitarian, judiciary run by Gollumhossein Mohseni Ejay, head of journalist descent his handofficials do not need much encouragement from the Supreme Leader to unleash brute force against the Iranian people.

executions in iran more than 2 times In the first half of 2022, 251 people were hanged, compared with 117 in the first half of last year. Moreover, rights advocates, as they have for the past 40 years, marginalized group When ethnic minority bear the brunt of state repression.

the country responded water When food Protests with batons, water cannons, tear gas, bullets and internet shutdowns. at the same time, hijab crackdownsegregate workspaces and seek to deprive women who do not adhere to the “Islamic” dress code of basic services. arrest them violently For the same reason on the street.

And that comes as the administration deploys aggressive online censorship methods to gain a firm grasp on the flow of information.

Frustrated by the bleak outlook, I sought advice or solace from a former political prisoner who served four years in an Islamic Republic prison in the 1980s and survived an accidental execution.

He pointed out that throughout history, in the face of state atrocities, people have not turned to the internet to overthrow tyrannical laws and rulers, whether at home or abroad.

Saye Isfahani An advocate, journalist and internet researcher with many years of experience working in Iran, including work related to the LGBTQI community.


Image: In a speech on June 28, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called on law enforcement to launch a brutal crackdown on all forms of “dissent” and online freedom. Source: Kamunei.ir

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