Iran: Internet disrupted again ahead of election

Email, social network sites harder to access, raising concerns about state censorship ahead of parliamentary elections.

February 20, 2012 14:45
Illustrative photo

keyboard computer Internet cyber warfare 311. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

TEHRAN - Iranians faced a second and more extensive disruption of Internet access on Monday, just a week after email and social networking sites were blocked, raising concerns about state censorship ahead of parliamentary elections.

The latest Internet blockade affected the most common form of secure connections, including all encrypted international websites outside of Iran that depend on the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, which display addresses beginning with "https."

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"The situation regarding accessing these websites is even worse than last week because the VPNs are not working," said a Tehran-based technology expert who declined to be identified.

Many Iranians use virtual private network, or VPN, software to get around the extensive government Internet filter which aims to prevent access to a wide range of websites including many foreign news sites and social networks like Facebook.

Last week, millions of Iranians suffered serious disruption in accessing email and social networking sites amid concerns the government is extending its surveillance on ordinary citizens.

Iranians have grappled with increased obstacles to using the Internet since opposition supporters used social networking to organize protests after the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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