- Nick Cannon is reportedly playing his Eminem diss track on repeat Today 1:20 PM
- College quarterback blasted by ex-girlfriend in savage AF breakup TikTok Today 12:27 PM
- Hallmark pulls ad featuring lesbian couple after conservative protest Today 11:27 AM
- Actress’ tweet calling out fellow passenger for not moving seats backfires Today 10:43 AM
- The 10 most influential hashtags of the decade Today 6:30 AM
- A lonely grandma sought family to spend Christmas with on Craigslist Saturday 5:45 PM
- Airbnb bans white supremacists tied to Iron March forum Saturday 5:07 PM
- Did a Twitter user really get tricked into naming baby ‘Jack Ingof’? Saturday 4:46 PM
- State of emergency declared in New Orleans following ‘cyberattack’ Saturday 4:12 PM
- Video shows boy getting beat up–mom says it’s because he wore MAGA hat Saturday 3:54 PM
- Billboard changing albums chart to count YouTube streams Saturday 2:43 PM
- TikTok’s 20 most popular songs of 2019 Saturday 2:14 PM
- Greek gods memes are flooding Reddit thanks to TV reboot rumors Saturday 1:47 PM
- Anti-impeachment protesters aimlessly fumble through halls of Congress Saturday 12:54 PM
- Everything we know so far about the Xbox Series X Saturday 12:17 PM
Why Iranians might actually use the censored “halal Internet”
Iran is making accessing forbidden material more trouble than it’s worth.
A lot of accounts have been written about Iran’s “halal Internet,” a closed national Web “purified” of pornography, blasphemy and political dissent, since before it launched late last year.
But, according to a report by Small Media (PDF) on Iran’s filtering regime, this closed system is only the most visible part of the country’s strategy for strangling the free flow of information.
No country can simply block its citizens’ access to the Internet with the flick of a switch, unless, as happened during the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Libya, you’re willing to shut off the Internet entirely. So what do you do? You unite social, legal and technical means to make accessing forbidden materials too much trouble. That’s what Iran is doing, in what The Verge termed “a cut-rate version of China’s Great Firewall.”
Among the measures Iran is using to subtly force Iranians to migrate to the Halal Internet:
Blocking VPN networks, Tor networks, and other anonymous browsing methods
Migrated blocks (blocking certain material for short periods of time in various areas)
Limiting the amount of encrypted traffic
And on top of that, it doesn’t offer popular services like Google and Skype. But Iran may not need them to encourage people to use its private, censored Internet.
“Why would you go to YouTube.com, which is slow, it’s filtered, it’s not in Persian, when you can go to YouTube.ir which is fast and has pirated content?” asked Collin Anderson, one of the report’s collaborators. “You’ll never see a video of Neda getting shot, but how often are you going to look at that? And it’s illegal anyway.”
In other words, if Iran can make it more expensive, in terms of time, trouble, social opprobrium and legality, to access the wider Internet, then Iran’s national Internet has a real chance of taking root and defining the Web for a generation of Iranians.
However, given the stubbornness, technical chops, and creativity of the country’s young people, it is far from a foregone conclusion.
Curt Hopkins has over two decades of experience as a journalist, editorial strategist, and social media manager. His work has been published by Ars Technica, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. He is the also founding director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers, the first organization devoted to global free speech rights for bloggers