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Iran’s Internet Shutdown Is Music To African Dictators Ears

Typing on laptop

People in Iran have been unable to access the internet for the past 3 days amid nation-wide protests against the government.

As with most attempts to shut down the internet, the point of this shutdown is to limit communication among protests and help control the spread of the protests whilst also making sure people outside the country don’t have a clear view of what’s going on.

Internet will return to the life of the Iranian people soon and the government [will] continue to develop it

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Mohammad Javad Azari _ Iran’s minister of telecommunications

What’s most interesting about this shutdown is the fact that Iran has what they call the National Information Network which they use to allow certain aspects of the internet they want working to remain online in the case of a shutdown.

The state-controlled internet is actually faster and cheaper but it allows the State to censor internet activity:

Despite authorities’ attempts to make some internal services available to a limited number of users, the shutdown continues and the internet as we know it is not available in Iran

Alp Toker – NetBlocks’ executive director

The current shutdown was described as the most severe shutdown in terms of its complexity by NetBlock’s director. In this regard, it seems banking infrastructure and health services that rely on the internet are still fully functional:

It’s widely believed this “national information network” (or “national internet” -a rose by any other name) is the reason why these shutdowns are able to occur without shutting the whole nation down -shutting down banking infrastructure, hospitals, etc.

mahsa alimardani – Internet Researcher

Being able to achieve this kind of complexity when shutting down the internet will be music to the ears of any government that looks to stifle citizens expression. Unfortunately, it will not come at a low cost as Iran is estimated to have spent around US$200 million investing in the National Information Network infrastructure.


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