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Author Topic:   Tehran police crack down on Internet, 400 cybercafes closed
Vatandoost
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posted May 14, 2001 12:38     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
TEHRAN, May 13 (AFP) - Authorities have closed hundreds of Tehran's cybercafes in the past several days as part of a general crackdown on growing use of the internet, a pro-reform newspaper reported on Sunday. The Hambastigi paper said around 400 internet cafes, all of which have only opened in the past three or four years, had been ordered to shut their doors by police.

Owners are being told they now need permits for their cafes as well as for use of the internet itself, and will have to register with a conservative-run trade union for computer and business-machine operators.

"The police came yesterday and wanted to shut us down," a 20-year-old Tehran cybercafe employee, who gave her name only as Leila, told AFP Sunday. "They said from now on we must be registered with the authorities."

Internet use has exploded since the 1997 election of President Mohammad Khatami, who has moved to liberalise Iranian society in the face of stiff conservative opposition.

An e-mail address has become a must for young people from the wealthier sectors of Iranian society, as well as among those less well-off.

"They simply wany to cut our phone links to the internet," said cybercafe owner Reza, who also declined to give his full name.

He said he was already losing business after being forced to take out four computers and put the blame for the crackdown on the state-run telephone company, which he said was trying to monopolise Iran's internet business.

"It's the phone company behind this, because they don't want people to come here anymore and be able to connect and talk abroad for hours," he said.

Chat rooms, normal e-mail and especially online phone services are cutting into state phone company revenues.

Hambastigi said the cybercafe closures risk putting around 5,000 people out of work and that the move contradicts Iran's moves toward privatisation and greater openness to the outside world.

Leila said that hundreds of young Iranians have been coming to her cafe each month and taking advantage of the cheapest way to communicate with friends and family abroad, especially in Europe and the United States.

"This is a new restriction being imposed on young people," she said, adding the owner was trying to get the necessary paperwork and that, if he is unsuccessful, "I'll be unemployed again."

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Vatandoost
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posted May 15, 2001 12:40     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
400 cybercafes closed

Reporters Sans Frontieres
Paris-France

May 14, 2001

In a letter to the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, RSF protested at the closure of four hundred cybercafes in Tehran.

Robert Ménard, the RSF general secretary, asked Ayatollah Shahroudi to "reverse this decision". "The cybercafes were an easy means to communicate with outside Iran and to be informed via foreign websites. In closing them down, the hard-liners show once again that they want to prevent Iranian citizens and especially the youth from being freely informed", he added.

The organisation recalled that on 9 May two students contributing to the student magazine Kavir, were arrested. For RSF, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is one of the world's 30 worst enemies of press freedom, making Iran the largest prison for journalists in the world, with 23 professionals of the media behind bars.

According to information collected by RSF, about 400 cybercafes were closed down from 8 to 13 May in Tehran. The Iranian authorities gave an ultimatum to the cybercafes to obtain a "work permit and a licence to operate on Internet". In case of non homologation by the conservative-run trade union for computer and business-machine operators, the police can shut them down. After the 1997 election of President Mohammed Khatami, hundreds of cybercafes flourished in Tehran.

In Iran, control of the Internet occurs on several levels. First, the Ministry of Information manages the government's ISP, the Data Communication Company of Iran (DCI). The DCI then filters (or attempts to filter) pornographic sites and opposition sites based in or outside of Iran. Finally, private ISPs, which must be approved by the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Islamic Orientation, also have a filtering system for sites and e-mail.

On 28 February 2001, RSF in collaboration with the magazine Transfert issued a report entitled "The enemies of the Internet - Impediments to the circulation of information on Internet", available on the RSF website: www.press-freedom.org

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Vatandoost
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posted May 16, 2001 09:31     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cybercafes closed for not complying with Islamic norms - official

Tehran, May 15, IRNA -- An official at the Iran Ministry of Post, Telephone and Telegraph said that the recent closure of several Internet cafes in Tehran was aimed at controlling materials which did not comply with the Islamic norms, press said Tuesday. The Persian daily Iran cited the unnamed official as also saying that the PTT did not play any role in those closures.

Reports said recently that some 400 Internet cafes in the capital Tehran had been closed on grounds that their owners were required to obtain licenses to stay in business.

"The move seems to be for more control and supervision on the activities of Internet cafes, in order to purify materials which go awry of Islamic norms," the paper cited the source as saying.

"Such controls are implemented for years in many countries and governments around the world eliminate those Internet outlets which do not comply with their national culture and their policies. Thus, it is natural such a measure to be carried in our country as well," the official added.

According to the official, the move was an appropriate one since it could protect some 400 billion rials (about $400m) of revenues which the government earns annually from offering long distance telephone connections to residents.

There are hundreds of Internet cafes in Tehran, providing cheap phone connections for relatives abroad.

The PTT is intending to bring those activities under law "in order to protect both the rights of the owners and those of the government," Iran cited the official, saying the government was not seeking monopoly on long distance calls.

An official at the Tehran police headquarters was also quoted as saying that some 250 Internet cafes throughout Tehran had been noticed of requirements to acquire license for their business.

Iran cited the official as saying that only five cafes had been closed for lack of such licenses.

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Vatandoost
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posted May 16, 2001 09:34     Click Here to See the Profile for Vatandoost   Click Here to Email Vatandoost     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Iran telecoms officials want cybercafes regulated

TEHRAN, May 15 (Reuters) - Iranian telecommunication officials have called for regulations on Internet cafes and hundreds of such cybershops were said to have been closed as part of an official clampdown, newspapers said on Tuesday. The officials told newspapers that the move was aimed at ending the large losses the cafes were inflicting on the monopoly Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) by offering cheap long-distance calls via the Internet.

But they denied allegations that the TCI was behind a crackdown in which police were said to have shut down hundreds of Internet cafes.

Reports over the number of the closed cybercafes were conflicting. Some newspapers and cafe owners said police had closed more than 400 Internet cafes in the capital Tehran, demanding that the owners obtain licences to stay in business.

The newspaper Iran, however, quoted a police source as saying that a total of 250 cafes in Tehran were warned of closure for functioning without licence but only five among them were shut down.

The TCI official said the telecomunication company was determined to regulate long-distance calls through internet.

"TCI seriously plans to oversee Internet telephony because it is a source of company income, and tax revenue to the government from long-distance phone calls is 400 billion rials ($50 million) a year," an unnamed official from the Post, Telegraphs and Telephones Ministry told the newspaper Iran.

"TCI in no way intends to monopolise such services," said the official in response to charges by Internet cafe owners that the monopoly wanted to stop their cheap telephone services.

The official said the police raids were aimed at fighting against Internet content "contradictory to Islamic values", an apparent reference to pornography and dissident politics.

"It has been the common practice of many countries for years to filter away Internet content opposed to their national politics and culture," the official added.

Cybercafes have mushroomed across Iran, where the state media is closely controlled by the conservative clerical establishment. The cafes are popular with the overwhelmingly youthful population of the Islamic republic and widely used to call relatives in Europe and the United States.

($1=7,900 rials)

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