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Restrictions in Iran to stop Internet use
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posted June 26, 2001 09:43
TEHRAN, June 25 (Reuters) - Iran's state telecoms monopoly has ordered tough new restrictions on Internet use, requiring service providers to block some sites and barring access to the Web for under-18s, newspapers said.
Regulations issued by the Iran Telecommunications Company order Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to filter all materials presumed immoral or contrary to state security, including the Web sites of opposition groups, the 'Hambastegi' newspaper said.
The new rules say ISPs who do not strictly comply risk losing their licenses and facing court action.
The heads of several ISP companies contacted by Reuters said they had not received official notification of the new by-law and had only seen the newspaper reports. Telecoms officials were not immediately available for comment.
Police closed down more than 400 Internet cafes in Tehran last month demanding owners obtain licenses to stay in business.
There are estimated to be around 1,500 Internet cafes in the capital, with more in other major cities.
The cafes are popular with the overwhelmingly youthful population of the Islamic Republic, where the state media are tightly controlled by conservatives.
posted June 26, 2001 09:45
Iran denies blocking internet for youth under 18
TEHRAN, June 25 (AFP) - Iran's telecommunications ministry denied a reformist newspaper report Sunday that it has prohibited under-18s from going to internet cafes.
"There has been a misunderstanding," Reza Sadri, director of the Data Communication Company of Iran, the ministry's offshoot charged with providing internet services, told AFP.
He said the ruling only blocked Iranians under 18 from opening cyber-cafes.
But Sadri did not dispute other portions of the Hambastegi newspaper's report that indicated a goverment campaign to censor the internet and limit access to it.
Hambastegi printed Sunday alleged government regulations that forbade internet cafes "to provide their services to youth under 18" and ordered all internet companies, including service providers, to block access to any web sites "carrying a threat to national security, national defense and religion."
Sites or information in favour "of the opposition, the consumption of drugs, and all other subjects affecting public modesty are forbidden," the text read.
The internet companies or cafes which disregard the rulings risk court action, Hambasteghi said.
Hambasteghi denounced the measures, mocking internet censorship as "a waste of time."
Reporting on Hambasteghi's story, the state IRNA news agency wrote: "The state telecommunications company has dashed the growing hopes of ... (the) youth population by slapping a ban on internet access for those under 18 years old."
On May 13, Hambasteghi reported that the police had closed around 400 cybercafes across Tehran, which the police immediately denied, saying they had shut only 15 cafes for operating without a proper license.
The authorities had demanded that all internet cafes obtain a proper work permit and internet licence, and issued warnings to around 250 of them.
A trade union for computer and business-machine operators, controlled by conservatives, has been charged with vetting cafe owners for the special licences.
After having been branded the "satanic web" by the Islamic regime for most of the 1990s, the internet has gained popularity since the 1997 election of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, who has moved to liberalise Iranian society in the face of stiff conservative opposition.
Internet cafes have sprung up across Tehran and other major cities.
In Tehran alone, Iranians can choose between a variety of "coffeenets" -- some open round the clock -- to meet friends, drink cappuccino and surf the Web.
Sadri placed the number of Iranian subscribers, counting both internet cafes and private users at over 300,000, more than double the figure of 120,000 from one year ago.
But he put the number of internet cafes at around 500, which is a major drop from the previous estimate of 1,200.
posted June 27, 2001 09:29
Iran Restricts Net Access To Children, Political Opposition
By Ian Stokell
June 25, 2001
While some critics contend that Western countries such as the U.S. use subtle measures to control and censor access to the Internet, such as filters in public libraries and schools or the federal government's Echelon e-mail tracking system, other countries without the inconvenience of a Bill of Rights can be more direct.
For example, Iran's state telecom monopoly, according to Reuters, has told the country's Internet service providers (ISPs) to stop teenagers and children from accessing the online medium, and to block access to some sites belonging to the government's political opposition.
Reuters quotes the Hambastegi newspaper as saying that new Iran Telecommunications Co. regulations order ISPs to filter all materials presumed immoral or contrary to state security, including the Web sites of opposition groups. ISPs reportedly face court action or the loss of their licenses if they don't abide by the new regulations.
Internet cafes are apparently big business in Tehran, the capital of Iran, and are popular with a large youth population.
There are an estimated 1,500 Internet cafes in Tehran, and Reuters reports that over 400 were closed last month by police that demanded owners obtain the necessary license. The state media is controlled by Islamic conservatives loyal to the government.
The practice is not new. China has a long record of attempting to control and deny access to the worldwide Internet in a variety of ways. The Chinese government, wary that it needs the Internet to compete in a global marketplace, is juggling restrictions on information, especially political information, obtained online on one hand and finding funding for Net startups on the other. Like Iran, the Chinese government reportedly closed down over 100 Internet cafes in Shanghai earlier this year for failing to have the required government licenses.
Also, some 18 months ago, the Chinese government introduced a spate of new rules concerning the Internet and the use of foreign-made encryption technologies. But some reports put the Internet-accessing population in China at close to 9 million, making such restrictions increasingly difficult to implement in the country.
All times are PT (US)
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