Iran’s government has blocked the use of virtual private networks (VPN), a software tool that many Iranians use to get around an extensive government Internet filter. The government installed filter is intended to block Iranians from accessing many sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal.
The report indicates that many Iranians are going around the filter via VPN software. It provides encrypted links directly to private networks located overseas. Thus, allowing a computer to act as if it is based in another country. An Iranian legislator told the Mehr news agency that the government has blocked "illegal" VPN access. It was confirmed by many Iranian Web users, wrote Yeganeh Torbati, a reporter with Reuters (News - Alert).
Ramezanali Sobhani-Fard, the head of parliament's information and communications technology committee told Iran’s Mehr news that, "Within the last few days illegal VPN ports in the country have been blocked." He added, "Only legal and registered VPNs can from now on be used."
As per the report, Iran will be holding a presidential election in June, it’s first since 2009. In fact, media reports indicate that the disputed results of 2009 led to the worst unrest since the Islamic revolution of 1979.
During the 2009 unrest, protesters were using social networks like Facebook to communicate with the rest of the world. Hence, the reports suggest that the Iranian government is taking steps to prevent access to the Internet, aiming to prevent a repeat of 2009.
In a recent Facebbok message, a user wrote "VPNs are cut off. They've shut all the ports." The same user said that the government has also blocked Skype (News - Alert) and Viber Internet services to make telephone calls.
However, early this year, the country’s Supreme Cyberspace Council told Mehr news that Internet users would soon be able to purchase registered VPN connections, making other VPNs illegal.
Edited by Brooke Neuman