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Iran Responds To Protests By Shutting Down The Internet

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Iran has reportedly shut down almost all internet access to the country as retaliation to escalating protests that were ignited by the increase in fuel prices. According to NetBlock, an NGO that monitors cyber security and governance across the world, Iran is in the midst of a near-total internet shutdown. Real time network data shows that connectivity is at 7% of ordinary levels.

Aside from the internet shutdown, NetBlock has also noticed that data connectivity from the largest mobile operators, MCI, Rightel and Irancell is also offline. Phones are still working but it very likely that they are being monitored by the state.

However, there are still some people who manage to send media and messages from Iran through Twitter. Most of the messages are specifically related to protests but without anti-government tags attached to them. A message that came from Tehran, one of Iran’s main highways, shows that traffic has receded because streets are closed. However, there are videos from the ground showing people and police swarming. Meanwhile, the Iranian government is also tweeting.

Suppressing internet access is one of the ways to contain communications between protesters and also with the outside world. This is not an unprecedented move because many un-democratic regimes have controlled their people and situations through internet shutdown.

One example is Pakistan that cut off internet access in some areas as response to protests over the conflict with India. India has done the same. Russia has approved a bill that can shutdown the internet when it so desires.

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