Iran moves to ease Internet censorship via "smart filtering"


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 15 May 2014

DUBAI: Iran plans to loosen Internet censorship by introducing "smart filtering" which only keeps out sites the Islamic government considers immoral, Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said on Wednesday. 

Internet use is high in Iran, partly because many young Iranians turn to it to bypass an official ban on Western cultural products, and Tehran occasionally filters popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook. 

Censorship has eased somewhat since Hassan Rouhani was elected last year on a moderate platform the "smart filter" initiative seemed to reflect. 

"We have signed agreements with three universities and research institutes to develop smart filtering to block only depraved and immoral sites, but allowing access to other pages," Vaezi said, without naming the organisations involved. 

"Smart filtering is used for specific targets only and presently the project is undergoing experiments," he was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying to journalists. 

The minister did not make clear what would be considered depraved and immoral, but the terms are frequently used by Iranian clerics to mean anything from pictures of women in revealing Western clothing to outright pornography. 

But he did brush aside rumours that Tehran would start filtering the latest teen fad, the WhatsApp Messenger instant messaging service. "What is being said about this matter is mainly nonsense — propaganda," he said. 

The Mehr report did not mention the latest Internet fad, a Facebook page where women post pictures of themselves without their obligatory headscarf. 

Like satellite television and music videos in earlier decades, cyberspace has been a controversial phenomenon in the Islamic republic, both out of political and moral concerns. 

Many in the conservative clerical establishment long opposed its introduction into Iran and, since its debut, have demanded tighter supervision. 

Their offensive peaked during a crackdown on freedom of speech in the wake of mass protests against former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009. 

Many bloggers were jailed and at least one person was sentenced to death for running what was called a "promiscuous" website. Two years ago, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set up a supervisory board to monitor Internet access. — Reuters  

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In Tech News

Americans spent US$5.6bil on video games in March 2021
Google, Apple executives to testify in app store hearing on Wednesday
Options on Coinbase Global to start trading on April 20, Nasdaq says
IBM quarterly sales growth highest in over two years on cloud strength
Thousands of Rogers wireless service users report outage
Facebook takes on Clubhouse, unveils upcoming audio products
Italy court dismisses Mediaset's damage bid against Vivendi in pay TV case
Microsoft to test Xbox cloud gaming on PCs, Apple mobile devices
Russian competition watchdog opens case against Google over YouTube curbs
Amazon gets 9 ULA satellite launch vehicles for broadband internet program

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers