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Iran blocks citizens’ access to Google and Gmail

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The Iranian government has followed through on its promise to cut off citizens’ access to Google and Gmail in a move toward a “halal” intranet, a nationwide network disconnected from the Internet at large.

On Sunday, a state official identified only by the surname Khoramabadi went on state television to make the announcement. “Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice,” he said, without providing a more detailed explanation.

According to Reuters, which cited the Iranian Students’ News Agency as a source, the move to ban Google and its products is connected to the anti-Islamic video “The Innocence of Muslims,” which was posted to Google-owned YouTube.

The short film has already been banned in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan, and is believed to have incited the riots that lead to the killing of Christopher Stephens, the United States Ambassador to Libya.

On Sep. 19, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamanei urged action against the anti-Islamic film.

However, the move could also be a step towards implementing the “halal” intranet, a closed network that would cut off Iranians from the rest of the world and would be monitored by the government. Long thought to be an unfeasible enterprise, the plan now looks to be fully operational. Many believe that “halal” intranet would be a critical blow to internet freedom in the already censored and monitored country.

Confirmation of Google’s shutdown could be found on Twitter, as several Iranians took to the social media platform to express their frustration.

“Agian [sic], another censorship in Iran, This time accessing to gmail and google has been restricted. #wtf,” tweeted @0xal, a reverse engineer.

Hours later, @0xal confirmed that access to Google and its services was possible by using certain IP addresses.

Other Iranian citizens were more despondent and cynical about the news.

“Ban it, Who cares! everything is filtered here!” said @DuttyHamid.

Google has yet to provide confirmation that it had been blocked in Iran. As noted elsewhere, the company has yet to update its Transparency Report, a site that tracks bannings and restrictions of Google services worldwide.

Photo via Marjolein Katsma/Flickr