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BizReport : Internet : December 06, 2006

Iran Expands Web Censorship, Blacklists YouTube

YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia and are no longer accessible to Iranians.

by Helen Leggatt

Some of the world’s most well-known websites are displaying the message “The requested page is forbidden” when accessed from inside Iran. Until now the sites targeted have been those thought “immoral” or linked to religious and opposition groups.

This recent censorship of high profile sites follows the government’s decision in October 2006 to ban high-speed Internet access. The move is in line with a campaign by Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to remove all traces of Western cultural influences from the nation.

Iran is one of 13 countries, referred to as “enemies of the internet” by Reporters Without Borders, that restrict web access. Despite this it has the second highest number of internet users in the Middle East, second only to Israel. Latest estimates put the figure around 7.5 million. Internet "hacktivists" recently launched a program that enables those in web-restricted countries to get around government censorship.

The ban isn’t limited to well known web destinations, blogs have been censored and bloggers intimidated.

The country’s Deputy Parliamentary and Legal Affairs ICT Minister said on Monday, “Public liberty for writing whatever they wish at websites and weblogs, including insults against personalities and the nation, is not tolerable.”

Tags: Amazon, censorship, Iran, YouTube

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