In his Nowruz message, President Obama discusses Iran's "electronic curtain."

Posted: 21 Mar 2012   Print   Send a link
The White House, 20 Mar 2012: "[I]ncreasingly, the Iranian people are denied the basic freedom to access the information that they want. Instead, the Iranian government jams satellite signals to shut down television and radio broadcasts. It censors the Internet to control what the Iranian people can see and say. The regime monitors computers and cell phones for the sole purpose of protecting its own power. And in recent weeks, Internet restrictions have become so severe that Iranians cannot communicate freely with their loved ones within Iran, or beyond its borders. Technologies that should empower citizens are being used to repress them. Because of the actions of the Iranian regime, an electronic curtain has fallen around Iran - a barrier that stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country, and denies the rest of the world the benefit of interacting with the Iranian people, who have so much to offer. I want the Iranian people to know that America seeks a dialogue to hear your views and understand your aspirations. That’s why we set up a Virtual Embassy, so you can see for yourselves what the United States is saying and doing. We’re using Farsi on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. And even as we’ve imposed sanctions on the Iranian government, today, my Administration is issuing new guidelines to make it easier for American businesses to provide software and services into Iran that will make it easier for the Iranian people to use the Internet." On the new guidelines for software and services to Iran, see The White House blog, 20 Mar 2012.

Mashable, 20 Mar 2012, Alex Fitzpatrick: "Channeling Winston Churchill’s 'Iron Curtain' speech, President Obama has said that an 'Electronic Curtain' is descending over Iran. ... So how do Internet-savvy Iranians to get around Iran’s National Gateway? A bit of cleverness — by using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and proxy servers located outside the country, Iranians can get around the government filters. Circumventing the government’s filters doesn’t come without risk. The regime has a 'cyber army' of up to 15,000 Internet 'enforcers,' and the government routinely spies on citizens’ online behavior. Many Iranians continue to ignore the risk of government harassment and intimidation."

RFE/RL, 20 Mar 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "Jamal Abdi, the research director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) ... said the United States needs to make sure sanctions are not adding to the iron curtain of Internet censorship. 'What we first of all need to do is to stop erring on the side of restriction and just grant a general license for all of these -- software, hardware, and services, including satellite Internet,' Abdi said. 'That's a very important one and, unfortunately, if you're a satellite Internet provider, you have to go to a licensing process that is pretty arduous. So you have the satellite above Iran that could provide Internet and they're not because they haven't gone through that process.'"

VOA press release, 19 Mar 2012: "Some of the biggest stars from the Persian music scene, including legendary pop singer Sattar, King Raam, and the band Kiosk, highlight a Nowruz TV special airing on the Voice of America Monday, as Persian-speakers around the world celebrate their New Year. Music icon, SattarThe star-studded two-hour concert, recorded live at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., also features Sepideh, Rana, Shahrzad, Karmandan, and Tara."

RFE/RL, Persian Letters blog, 13 Mar 2012, Golnaz Esfandiari: "[I]t appears that Iran's war on satellite dishes is a losing one. Neither police raids nor stiff fines have been able to stop Iranians from watching their favorite shows. At a recent seminar about the "harming effects" of satellite dishes, held in the city of Qom, researcher Mohammad Reza Khoshrou said that, according to the latest figures, 65 percent of Tehran residents use satellite dishes. ... One woman in the Iranian capital, whose satellite dish was demolished by the police several months ago, told 'Persian Letters' that the first thing she did the day after her apartment complex was raided was order a new dish and receiver. 'That's the only fun we have here. There's nothing worth watching on [state television],' she said. 'They can come and take my dish away. I will get a new one.'"

AP, 18 Mar 2012: "Britain has condemned Iran for blocking a website aimed at explaining the United Kingdom and its policies to Iranians. Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday that barring the British government's 'UK for Iranians' site -- three days after it was launched -- proves 'the Iranian authorities fear their own citizens' interaction and involvement with the outside world.' Britain says Iran blocked the site on Saturday. It remains unavailable to users in Iran. The BBC's Persian service is regularly blocked in Iran."