Iran has announced it has completed the first phase of its plan to operate a “national internet”. An inauguration ceremony was held on Sunday by the country’s communications and information technology minister, Mahmoud Vaezi. The state news agency Irna said the initiative would offer “high quality, high speed” connections at “low costs”. But critics suggest the true aim is to tighten the authorities’ control over citizens’ use of the net.
But things got a just a bit more dangerous for some in Iran this past week, as the country has announced it is cracking down on its citizens for actions against Islam and for infractions of fashion on display on several social media services. It seems some portion of the Revolutionary Guard has quite literally become the Fashion Police.
Large technology firms are failing to provide sophisticated and country-specific user security measures, and as a result, are helping Iran s state agencies target Iranian citizens online, an investigation by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has found. By not upgrading their security protocols and denying Iranian users access to the latest technology tools and services to protect themselves, tech giants including Google and Facebook are inadvertently allowing Iranians to fall victim to attacks by government hackers.
An Iranian court has sentenced a well-known tycoon to death for corruption linked to oil sales during the rule of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the judiciary spokesman said Sunday. Babak Zanjani and two of his associates were sentenced to death for “money laundering,” among other charges, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi said in brief remarks broadcast on state TV. He did not identify the two associates. Previous state media reports have said the three were charged with forgery and fraud.
In the months leading to the Iranian 2016 elections, authorities have cracked down heavily on Iran’s fragile civil society. On Sunday February 21 Branch 54 of Tehran’s Appeals Court reportedly confirmed prison sentences for four civil rights activists: Arash Sadeghi, 15 years in prison; Golrokh Irayee, six years in prison; Navid Kamran, one year in prison; and Behnam Mousivand, one year in prison.
Iranian officials have reportedly seized thousands of cars from women who were deemed to be driving without their hair properly covered. Rules which made headlines around the world a few months ago require women to wear headscarves at all times while driving, or risk being pulled over. According to the AFP News Agency, more than 40,000 “cases of bad hijab” since March.
The Foreign Ministry plans to create a new App to locate the words ‘knife’ and ‘Jew’ on social media as part of its new offensive against Palestinian incitement on the internet. Under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry s communication s department a new office of some eight to ten people, with backgrounds in Arabic and technology, will be set up to counter the wave of incitement against Israel and Jews on social media.
Just over a week after Cumhuriyet Editor-in-Chief, Can D ndar, represented the Turkish daily news outlet in receiving a press freedom award, he and another top editor were arrested and jailed on charges of espionage. In question was a controversial article exposing arms shipments from Turkish intelligence to Syrian extremist rebels.
The government shut down two Arabic-language outlets last week, leaving nearly 30 journalists jobless. The Union of Israeli Journalists: “Shutting down media outlets is nearly unheard of in democratic regimes.” As reported on the media watchdog site The Seventh Eye, police and Shin Bet agents raided and shut down the newsroom of veteran newspaper, Sawt al-Haq wa Al-Hurriya, as well as the news website PLS48, while confiscating computers and other equipment.
“It is only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to solve problems without using violence.” Siamak Namazi sent me an Internet meme with this quote only a few weeks ago. It was his clever way of responding to the heated discussions I was having on social media in his defense. The Daily Beast had just published an article attacking Siamak and his family, via a pseudonym, as Siamak was being interrogated in Iran. The article falsely claims that the Namazi family stood to gain millions of dollars from the P5+1 Iran Deal and they were promoting the deal through “the Iran Lobby,” the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).