September 27, 2022


As protests continue over the death of a woman in police custody in Iran, access to Instagram and WhatsApp has been blocked.

Meanwhile, there were major internet outages across the country, and mobile phone services were also disrupted.

Last week, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by the state’s morality police for ‘improper clothing’ – a hijab she was believed to be wearing improperly. Authorities deny she committed any wrongdoing, claiming she suffered sudden cardiac failure. Since then, however, there has been a wave of protests across the country, which are said to have killed at least eight people.

Now, according to data from NetBlocksauthorities have retaliated with a series of internet restrictions – the toughest, the firm says, since the November 2019 massacre that killed more than 300 people.

Twitter and Facebook have long been banned in Iran. However, Instagram and WhatsApp are now restricted for all users registered with an Iranian phone number +98 on all major network operators. Meanwhile, mobile networks including MCI, Rightel and Irancell are mostly shut down.

“Users have also reported disconnected or severely slowed internet service in multiple cities since the first outage was reported on Friday, September 16, 2022,” NetBlocks says.

“Network outages are likely to severely limit the public’s ability to express political discontent and communicate freely.”

Because traffic is scrambled at the network layer, it is generally not possible to bypass the block using bypass software or virtual private networks (VPNs).

Iran is one of the world’s worst offenders when it comes to internet shutdowns, blocking internet access at least five times in 2021.

In a joint statement, groups including Access Now, PEN America and Reporters Without Borders called on the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to demand that Iran reverse its moves.

“We also call on the Iranian government to enact policies, practices and laws consistent with international human rights law that recognize the fundamental role the internet plays in the exercise of human rights and protect against shutdowns,” they write.

“In the past, the Iranian government has demonstrated a similar pattern of preferential treatment and a multi-layered approach, in which institutions including banks, news agencies, police stations and government offices remain connected to the Internet, while ordinary people in Iran, using the same ISP, are disconnected -these. The authorities must do everything in their power to ensure internet access for everyone in Iran.”

Shutdowns occur because pro-government websites suffer outages themselves. Activist group Anonymous says it has carried out attacks on two government websites and Iran’s state television channel, along with other sites.

“The Iranian people are not alone. Anonymous will not keep the Iranian government alive on the Internet as long as they fight dictatorial rule and murderous policemen,” it said in video statement.

“You censored your people’s social media and other communications to cover up knowledge of your crimes against them. Now Anonymous will shut you down and your own people will remove you from power.”



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