According to Iranian officials, there was never any intention of denying the Iranian people access to their Gmail accounts: it was YouTube (News - Alert) that they wanted banned.
In Iranian government, the telecommunications ministry committee censors media to ensure that its people will not be subjected to what is considered immoral by Islamic standards, and in this circumstance the issue is with YouTube.
It seems that Gmail was involuntarily restricted based on a technicality.
It seems that along with content and censorship issues is another problem with singling out the specific media culprit. Mohammad Reza Miri, a ministry committee member, told the BBC, “We wanted to block YouTube, and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary… We do not yet have enough technical know-how to differentiate between these two services.”
BBC suggests what instigated the recent ban was the circulation of a You Tube video that was anti-Islamic in content. But the telecommunications ministry committee is not just responsible for approving media content, but to find technical solutions.
Although the quoted committee member admitted that their committee lacked certain “technical know-how’s,” it is currently seeking solutions that will “block YouTube HTTPS protocol while leaving Google (News - Alert) accessible.”
This is not the first time Iran’s strict censorship was featured in the news. In fact, back in April, a statement issued from the Iranian ministry suggested officials were not happy about the publicity generated from the media about the claim that Iran will restrict Internet access. The ministry’s statement to the press regarding the report inculpates that the false report stems from "the propaganda wing of the West and [is] providing its hostile media with a pretext emanating from a baseless claim."
It seems that Tajali Mehr, executive telecommunications consultant for the country, believes the U.S. is behind the exploitation of this story as well. “This is just a propaganda tool to demonstrate that Iran is doing something against the U.S.,” he told the BBC, “but it is unlikely to last longer than a few days.”
But what makes this report different from the one back in April is that Iranian officials are not denying that the YouTube ban is deliberate. One official even wrote, "Banning the service will bring some losses to Google, although not substantial. I agree with banning it."
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Edited by Braden Becker