This is not an in-depth blog post about the internet censorship in Iran. If you look for that you find better stuff ‘out there’ or maybe start with the dedicated wikipedia page, instead. This is mere a simple story about my own experience, using the internet in Iran.
Recently I was in Iran for educational purposes (the thing other people call vacation). I directly came from Bucharest where I was at FSFE’s General Assembly and where I used Airbnb to find a proper accommodation. For those who do not know: Airbnb is a service that offers private accommodations, provided by local people. To prove reliability of the hosts, it comes with a built-in recommendation system. So I was in Iran now and I wanted to write a recommendation about my host in Bucharest inside Airbnb. But, when I tried to log in, I was facing this:
Why can I not use Airbnb from my location?
Airbnb has to keep to the law of the United States, that says that people of distinct countries are not allowed to use our service. That is why our service is not available in Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.
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Do you remember the protests around #GeziPark in Istanbul, Turkey, in June 2013? People were heavily using Twitter and other social media to mobilize and organize an opposition against Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government. Since then, the Internet is Erdogan’s personal enemy.
If we look at a rough timeline of Erdogan’s recent turkish government decisions on internet policy:
- February 2014: Turkey passes a new internet law No 5651, to censor the web and for data retention (Guardian, BoingBoing). content:
- block any website within four hours without first seeking a court ruling
- store all data on web users’ activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request
- March 2014: Turkish government blocks Youtube and Twitter ahead of national elections. (anmnesty international)
- April – June 2014: Twitter compiles with court decisions to aid and assist Turkish authorities in ceonsoring political content. (Daily Sabah)
- May to July 2014: Turkey blocks access to approximately 48.000 websites
… we can see that Internet governance in Turkey equals censorshop. However …
What t f?
#IGF2014’s agenda is about reforming ICANN, privacy, fundamental rights, surveillance and net neutrality. Now, guess, who sends most participants into the discussions and decisions about these important topics? Erdogan’s government and authorities.
If you are interested in more details about Turkish governments attack on the internet, read why Yaman Akdeniz and Kerem Altiparmak are boycotting the Internet Governance Forum.
Both are speaking at the Internet Ungovernance Forum, instead. It’s first sentence reads:
We’re organizing the Internet Ungovernance Forum on September 4-5, for people who demand that fundamental freedoms, openness, unity and net neutrality remain the building blocks of the Internet.