Iran – Government blocks Internet access in response to the protests

Pierluigi Paganini November 24, 2019

Iran – After the announcement of the government to cut fuel subsidies, protests erupted in the country and the authorities blocked Internet access.

After the announcement of the government to cut fuel subsidies, protests erupted in Iran and the authorities blocked access to the internet to prevent the spreading of news, videos, and images online.

Initially, mobile networks stopped working in large areas of the country, the government blocked any access to the Internet.

The civil society organization Netblocks, which monitors Internet access worldwide, provided details of the ongoing government activity to prevent access to the Internet.

“Network data from the internet observatory confirm disruptions with multiple fixed-line and mobile providers in Iran, amid protests against rising fuel prices. The outages have partial (update: now , see below) impact at the time of writing affecting multiple cities including Tehran.” reported the NetBlocks website.

“Users first reported outages in Mashhad, which has also seen a drop in connectivity beginning on the evening of Friday 15 November. The disruptions have increased in extent and severity as of 21:15 UTC Friday (12:45 a.m. local time), continuing as of 00:00 UTC Saturday, with impact also visible on overall connectivity charts.”

The measure is not uncommon, other countries like Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Venezuela operate strict censorship.

According to the media, Iran’s Internet connectivity was drastically reduced and only government organizations and regime-aligned news outlets were able to access the internet for more than 110 hours. This week, organizations monitoring Internet access reported that the connectivity was slightly increasing in the country.

The news was also confirmed by the Iran’s Fars news agency that reported that the Internet was “being gradually restored” in some areas.

Clearly, such kind of measures has a dramatic impact on private companies operating in the country, including start-up companies and small businesses.

“But at least on a technical level, the move appeared to have been extensively planned. The scale of it, NetBlocks director Alp Toker said, is astonishing. Rather than activating a “kill switch,” Iranian authorities appeared to have individually cut off separate networks in a “painstaking” effort.” reported the Washington Post.

The sad news is that there is a close link between the Internet shutdowns and the number of death tolls caused by government repression. According to Amnesty International, Iran’s security forces may have killed over 100 protesters in the last week, while the Iranian authorities had officially acknowledged only five deaths.

To have a clearer idea of what is happening in the country let’s give a look at the usage of the Tor network in Iran. The Tor network is used worldwide to avoid censorship and protect anonymity online.

The following graph shows the estimated number of directly-connecting clients, it is clear that the government is operating censorship preventing users from directly access to the Tor network too.

iran internet access
[adrotate banner=”9″] [adrotate banner=”12″]

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Iran, Internet access)

[adrotate banner=”5″]

[adrotate banner=”13″]

you might also like

leave a comment