Liberty and security often go hand in hand and some would say you can’t have one in abundance without forgoing the other.
In Iran yesterday the government decided to implement new controls which involved blocking access to Google’s search service as well as Gmail. Whilst there is still no official word on why such a move was taken it is believed to be connected to the posting of an anti-Islamic film on YouTube recently. It is also not the first time that Iran has chosen to apply censorship to the search giant – back in February both services were restricted in the run up to the March elections. And YouTube itself has been banned in Iran since the middle of 2009 following allegations of wrong-doing after President Ahmadinejad was re-elected.
Additionally, certain web sites and services are routinely blocked as well, such as the BBC, CNN, Twitter and Facebook. And, in a counter-move, certain services are blocked the other way, such as World Of Warcraft.
So far it all sounds rather troublesome for Iranian citizens but the likelihood is that such blocking is likely to have little or no effect on them. Government control of the internet is nothing new and so many computer users, even kids, are well versed in the use of VPNs and other methods for getting around such controls. Further ahead though, things may be different as it is believed that the Iranian authorities may be looking to implement a nationwide intranet which would effectively control all traffic that falls outside of it. This intranet may be fully operational within the next few years.
In the meantime many Iranian people may be left wondering if their government is looking out for them and their nation’s cyber security (following on from Stuxnet) or whether this is just another means of controlling and limiting their civil liberties.