DUBAI - Millions of Iranians have suffered serious disruption recently in accessing email and Internet social networking sites, raising concerns authorities are stepping up censorship of opposition supporters ahead of parliamentary elections next month.
Iranians have grappled with increased obstacles to using the Internet since opposition supporters used social networking sites to organize widespread protests after the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The country is preparing to hold parliamentary elections on March 2, the first time Iranians will go to the polls since President Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election. The government denied any fraud in the vote, which ignited street protests that were crushed violently by security services after eight months.
The new Internet blockade affected the most common form of secure connections from Friday, according to outside experts and Iranian bloggers. Traffic was said to have returned to normal on Monday. "I haven't been able to open pages for days but now it's working again, although slowly," said Hamid Reza, a 20-year-old student in Tehran, who was reluctant to give his surname.