Iran Blocks Access to Facebook, Gmail Ahead of Islamic Revolution Anniversary

Online reports suggest sites censored in order to suppress any attempt by opposition to renew its protests during the upcoming month-long anniversary celebration to honor the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Iranian government tightened its hold on internet access this past week, ensuring that its citizens would not be able to access their email accounts on major websites such as Google.

According to an Iranian news agency, 30 million Iranians discovered this week that they could not access their accounts on Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail among other websites.

iran - AP - January 19 2011

According to a report from the website Hacker News, Iran had blocked access to the sites on Thursday, in contravention with its official communications protocol.

The reports also suggest that the sites were censored due to the upcoming month-long anniversary celebration in honor of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in order to suppress any attempt by the opposition to renew its protests against the regime during the celebrations.

Until now, Iranians had been using programs such as TOR to bypass government censors. However, many are now reporting that even those programs no longer allow access to websites such as Facebook.

The news comes in the wake of a report stating that Iran was seeking to disconnect from the World Wide Web, and is seeking to establish its own national network.

Furthermore, Iranian authorities have begun enforcing a new law which forces internet café owners to collect information regarding their clients. Should the owners refuse, they could face the possibility having their business shut down.

The Internet, and specifically social network sites, played a major role during the 2009 anti-regime protests that rocked the country after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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