Filter busters versus shortwave, and other Iran media news.

Posted: 03 Feb 2010   Print   Send a link
U.S.-based Global Internet Freedom Consortium deputy director Shiyu Zhou "says: their goal is nothing less than to tear down the firewalls of every dictatorship around the world. With U.S. government funding, he believes his group can do just that. ... [I]ntervention may sometimes be necessary, says Ken Berman, director of information technology for the U.S.-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America. The VOA has collaborated with GIFC and other circumvention-software makers for years. Despite the Iranian government's efforts to jam VOA's broadcasts and block its Persian News Network and Radio Farda Web sites, listeners in Iran could hear and spread the news during the elections by using filter busters." Jessica Ramirez, Newsweek, 26 January 2010. Keep in mind that the internet almost always involves landlines in the target country. In contrast, shortwave signals drop in directly.
     "The challenge of reaching the [Iranian] regime loyalists is better understood in a historical context. I took part in the demonstrations that overthrew the Shah as a young teenager. Back in 1978, we would huddle around the radio, and listen to the BBC Persian Service and even Radio Moscow. It was radio but the news was reliable and constant. ... Today, the Islamic Republic easily jams all foreign news channels and filters as many news websites as it deems fit. I was in Tehran during the June protests after the disputed presidential election. My friends and family were scrambling to get some news from foreign sources, but nothing relevant could be picked up on satellite TV. All channels were jammed by the authorities. Technology has captured people‚Äôs attention as a promising tool to make change in Iran. The US senate has authorised up to 50 million US dollars to help Iranians evade internet censorship. However, what is now essential is to provide a universally accessible medium to Iranians that would not be susceptible to complete disruption or censorship by the regime. The opposition groups need to move beyond preaching to the converted and target those who have seen nothing but the propaganda of the Islamic regime. If the regime is willing to shut down the internet, cellphones, text messaging and satellite TV at any moment, as it has frequently done since the elections, high-tech will fail again. Today, Iran needs a medium that is universally accessible and unequivocally beyond the reach of the ruling regime. Getting back to basics could be one solution. The most capable medium is still short-wave radio, a low-tech, universally accessible, and hard to jam medium that has often been used to overcome censorship. The experience of stations like Radio Free Europe during the 1980s and many other instances show that the Iranian people would benefit if the lessons of the past are heeded." Babak Shahrvandi (pseudonym), Global Arab Network, 27 January 2010.
     "A new trial was held on Saturday for dissidents who took part in protest demonstrations against the Iranian government, the official news agency IRNA reported. ... The prosecutor said the 16 confessed to crimes which included espionage, sabotage and sending news and pictures of the demonstrations to 'hostile' foreign media. One of the defendants was quoted by IRNA as saying he sent news and pictures in the form of e-mails and text messages to the BBC, Voice of America and Al-Jazeera." DPA, 30 January 2010.
     "Some news outlets (perhaps eager to get the Iran story back into the news cycle after the Haiti disaster) rushed to interpret the secondhand remarks [of opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi] as explosive proof that Karroubi had somehow changed his stance on Iran's current domestic political crisis. 'Karroubi had not budged at all,' one Tehran analyst told the Times. 'Karroubi said that the government is the government of the system. So it does not imply he has recognized it. Unfortunately, BBC Persian and Radio Farda, seeking hot news, sacrificed their critical faculties.'" Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, Babylon & Beyond blog, Los Angeles Times, 26 January 2010.