THEORY: Electronic information sharing is only becoming more difficult in Iran

by Lindsey

Remember when Google’s shuttering of Reader’s social features destroyed Iranians’ last best hope at uncensored communication and information sharing (via a little bit of hyperbole)? Now, in another blow, Herdict reports that VPNs have been banned in Iran:

Iran’s Minister of Communications and Technology Reza Taghipour announced the VPN usage would be criminalized in the country. In the past, Iranians had frequently used VPNs to bypass strict content controls to access blocked sites such as Facebook and Gmail. Earlier in the month, Iranians noticed increased difficulties with accessing their VPN accounts after the government ordered that VPNs be disconnected.

Iran’s decision to ban VPNs comes as the most recent measure taken against what the Iranian government claims is a cultural ‘soft war’ between Islamic countries and the West. …

It is unclear, however, whether or not the criminalization of VPNs will have its intended chilling effects. This past summer, Iran declared a ban on satellite dishes, which Iranians have continued to use. Moreover, as Iranian journalist Hadi Nili has pointed out, preventing people from using VPNs will still be difficult, “There will always be new ways to bypass measures by the government,” he says.

Iranians should be able to find a way around this latest attempt to censor free communication, but still, these guys can’t catch a break.