Pay no attention to the executions behind the curtainArseh Sevom — In this week’s overview, we learn that the short term political aims of sanctions have long term effects on the most vulnerable. Improved relations may actually lead to some ease in US sanctions. This would most likely only sanctions that are the result of executive orders. Sanctions signed into law by the US congress are unlikely to be changed. Over 100 tons of illegal drugs were seized in Tehran. We are not talking about recreational drugs here, many of them were difficult to find treatments. In a carnival-like atmosphere, the Iranian military destroyed equipment for over 800 satellite connections with tanks and bulldozers. Despite the kinder, gentler face Iran is showing the world, executions continue at a record rate and Internet freedom is at an all-time low. Will the Iranian government start thawing relations with its own population next?


Arseh Sevom — The elections are coming, which means candidates are finally registering, the internet is slowing, and paranoia is high. In the latest crackdown, dogs walked in public are being confiscated. Iran hasn’t budged on the press freedom index, hanging on to its spot as one of the six worst countries in the world. Workers refuse to let May Day go unnoticed: they celebrate, strike, and protest poor wages and even worse conditions. Ten political prisoners in Evin were transferred to solitary confinement, while permits have been issued for mining in protected natural areas.


Post image for Publishers Under Pressure, Prisoners of Conscience Suffer, Attempts to Revive Extinct Tigers

Arseh Sevom — This weekly review features thinly veiled threats from the state to publishers, more censorship from officials, continued suffering of prisoners of conscience, and efforts to revive the extinct Caspian tiger. Publishers vs. the Islamic Republic The Islamic Republic’s clash with private publishers has reached alarming levels and, according to a recent report [...]

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Post image for Poison Pen Letters: Journalists in Iran Threatened Via Email

For those of you who read Arseh Sevom’s recent post about Walid Al-Saqaf (click here) and his circumvention tool, Alaksir, you know the Iranian government is cracking down on the internet using deep packet inspection. This means they are examining every piece of information going through the cyber pipes. Now Global Voices reports that a [...]


Post image for Breaking and Bending Censorship with Walid Al-Saqaf

Arseh Sevom — Reports from the Islamic Republic of Iran about internet speeds, work to create a parallel cyber Iran, and the growing success of filtering systems paint a picture of desperate efforts to exert control over the population. Iran is not alone in its efforts. North Korea has their own “intranet” called Kwang Myong (“light” or “hope, fair, just, open”). The North Korean version duplicates external content it deems acceptable. Iran’s new closed intranet is expected to do the same, in a cyber version of what the state already does in traditional media by cherry-picking content from international sources and editing or translating it in ways that often distort the original meaning.


Post image for Controlling the Internet by Creating a Parallel Cyber Iran

ARSEH SEVOM — The anniversary of the fall of the Shah and the success of the revolution (February 11) is now marked by decreased internet connection speed, increased security, and fears of demonstrations in Iran.

In addition to decreased bandwidth, the Islamic Republic is in the process of creating a parallel cyber-world. Instead of spending time and energy filtering sites using a blacklist, the regime is creating a “whitelist” of acceptable sites. Everything is blocked except sites deemed appropriate by the regime. It’s a kind of “shoot first, ask questions later” policy. Instead of the “old” Orkut — an early social media site which was a hit in Iran before it was filtered — and the “new” Facebook, they offer websites such as Instead of Youtube (for video uploading) they offer and instead of Google’s Blogspot they have Even these sites can end up filtered at “sensitive” times, such as the days leading up to the anniversary of the revolution. In addition, content that does not meet their terms of use is quickly deleted from view.


The Editor. May 30, 2011

A ‘Halal’ Internet

Post image for A ‘Halal’ Internet

The Wall Street Journal and other sources are reporting on the government of Iran’s plans to create its own internet. The regime already controls the speed of its internet, keeping it artificially low. Since 2005, they have also been planning to create a closed internet, a la China and other repressive governments, with content controlled by various ministries and with separate e-commerce access.

Current head of economic affairs in Iran, Ali Aghamohammadi says:“We can describe it as a genuinely ‘halal’ network aimed at Muslims on a ethical and moral level.”

Read the full post.


The Editor. March 25, 2011

The Networked Diaspora

Rhizomic roots

For as long as people have looked for new opportunities, resources and biotopes, migration has taken place. It is only in modern times that the displacement of people has occurred under the constraints of nation states, regulations, and rules of legitimization. In the modern world, system boundaries — national borders — are seen as regulating the process of demographic developments and migration flows. The era of globalization, characterized by what Manuel Castells[2] (1996) calls the rise of the network society, has created a foundation for the emergence of newly constructed forms of local and/or transnational cultural ‘imagined communities’. One of the impacts of recent globalization is the formation of new offline and online transnational connections among migrants worldwide. The formation of these networked communities is often linked to concepts such as home(land) and identity.


Post image for Iran's reformists and activists: Internet exploiters

In this piece, authors Babak Rahimi and Elham Gheytanchi examine the roots of digital activism in Iran. They present cases showing the ways in which internet technologies have been used by reformist clerics and the women’s movement as a means for communicating their message to a broader audience and maintaining opposition messages. Iran’s Reformists and [...]

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Twitter Revolution?

PhD candidate Donya Alinejad poses questions about techno-utopianism, Cold War imagery, and the real and imagined effects of social networking and the internet in creating offline actions. The town square is still the town square, she asserts pointing to recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya. The death of the “twitter revolution” and the struggle over [...]