Iran “cutting off” internet access? Don’t believe it
There are many accepted “facts” (conventional wisdom) about Iran that have started out as a case of bad reporting, were further embellished with constant repetition, and have since become “truths” just because everyone assumes they are in fact true.
The most recent example is of course the claim that Iran is planning on cutting access to the internet this month. Note that none of the hyped reports even bother to mention Iran’s denial of the claims: apparently Iran merely plans on creating a parallel domestic network for the government and universities and which will presumably be more secure:
Iran, however, does have plans to establish a “national information network” billed as a totally closed system that would function like a sort of intranet for the Islamic republic.
But this brings back an interesting memory from when I first started blogging about US-Iran relations: Actually, it was the US that first cut off Iran’s internet connection, back in 1996. This was attributed to a case of over-zealous enforcement of the US sanctions on Iran by the National Science Foundation, which was in control of the internet:
Earlier this month, a National Science Foundation official blocked crucial international links to Iran, apparently in response to an Iran and Libya Sanctions Act that became law on 5 August. The move prevents people in the United States from connecting to Iranian computers by cutting off access to the country’s only permanent Net connection – a single, achingly slow 9600 bps modem.
The link joins the Internet at Austria’s Vienna University, which received a letter from an NSF employee – who the foundation claims acted without authority – asking their network gurus to cease forwarding Iranian data to American networks. The NSF employee, Steve Goldstein, told the university that the United States embargoed such exchanges with Iran.
The action was reversed quickly, after vociferous complaints around the world.
Now, I am sure there are plenty of people in Iran — as well as in many other nations — who think that the internet should be restricted. But when the Iranians complain that the internet is “controlled by one or two countries“, they do have historial precedents to prove their case.
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