Reporters Without Borders has condemned the Iranian government’s latest offensive against the internet coinciding with celebrations marking the Islamic Revolution’s 31st anniversary. Online access has again been disrupted, as opposition protests are expected. RWB says that in major cities such as Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Ahvaz and Shiraz, internet connections have been slowed down, restricted to certain neighbourhoods or entirely suspended in some areas for the past few days. Some mobile phone companies have blocked the sending of SMS messages since the evening of 6 February.
The authorities announced yesterday that they were permanently blocking access to Google Mail and would instead create a national email service.
“The Iranian government has never hidden the fact that it regards new media, especially the internet, with the utmost suspicion because of the very visible presence of its opponents on social networks,” RWB said. “Its response is to slow or sever connections in an attempt prevent its critics from organising and prevent damaging reports and images from circulating within the country or being sent abroad."
The Guardian reports that Western journalists have been denied visas to cover the anniversary and restrictions have been placed on the few foreign correspondents still in the country.
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