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Iran Has Built a Censorship Monster, With Help From Western Tech

22 06 2009 – When it comes to online censorship and monitoring online activities, the first country that usually comes to mind is China and its Great Firewall.

This, however, may soon change, as it seems that Iran has built one of the most advanced systems for monitoring all online traffic, with the help of technology built by Nokia and Siemens.

The Great Firewall of Iran, as it will undoubtedly be dubbed, involves deep packet inspection, a technique that examines both the header and the data part of internet data packets and can be used for eavesdropping, censorship and data mining.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s online monitoring and censorship system digs through data at one big choke point, which is made easy by the fact that the government owns a telecom which holds a monopoly over the country’s online communication. This is different from China’s Great Firewall, which is far more decentralized, but it makes it even more advanced than the Chinese version, since it’s easier to monitor traffic at one point than having to synchronize such efforts at many locations. This is enhanced by the fact that China has 300 million Internet users, compared to Iran’s 23 million Internet users.

The equipment that enables such measures has been provided to Iran, in part, by a joint venture between Nokia and Siemens, and according to the WSJ, the spokesman for the venture, Ben Roome, has confirmed this. However, the company has since sold the business of “and interception of all types of voice and data communication on all networks” – as described in the company brochure – to a Munich-based investment firm Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP.

The morality of creating “intelligence solutions” such as these and selling them to oppressive regimes is subject to debate. However, what the end user needs to be concerned with is stopping and preventing such measures. One approach, is encryption. The idea is for a critical mass of users – perhaps 30% of all Internet users – to start encrypting their Internet traffic, which would make it too expensive and too complex for any organization, even a government of a wealthy country, to monitor it.

Several initiatives that help end users easily encrypt traffic have emerged in recent years; hopefully, some of them will soon enter the mainstream and make any censorship and online monitoring effort futile.

Source: mashable.com

Video: Iran Election Crisis: 9 Incredible YouTube Videos

20 06 2009 – It’s no secret that social media’s played an important – maybe even historic – role in the Iran election protests that have swept the nation into discord and disarray. Many social media companies have made a contribution towards opening the flow of communication within and out of Iran, YouTube included.

Thousands of Iran-related videos are being uploaded to YouTube every day, revealing first-hand accounts of the crisis to the world. Some are incredible, some are eye-opening, and other shock you to your very core. We’ve included ten of these incredible videos, in a chronological order that helps provide context to the crisis in Iran. Be prepared, for these videos can evoke some very strong emotions:

1. Saturday, June 13th

This was one of the first Iran election protests videos to be spread around the web. Translate, the video’s title is “Saturday 23 June.” In actuality, this video was taken on Saturday, June 13th in what we believe to be Tehran.

2. June 13th: Riot in tehran streets after election day

This now well-known video has over 400,000 views. You can see the green masks of the Mousavi movement onn clear display.

3. June 13th: BBC – Protest against Iran election results

The BBC was on top of the Iran crisis. This popular video is an incredible on-the-ground report.

4. June 14th: Iranians protest against election results, police intervene

This is one of the first videos that shows the police getting involved in breaking up the crowds that formed not long after the elections. There are cries, screaming, running, burning wreckage, and many angry citizens.

5. June 14th: Iran Election Protest in Paris

The protests have not just been inside of Iran. There have been demonstrations in cities across the world in support of Mousavi’s Green Movement. This well-produced video comes out of Paris.

6. June 17: Protesting in Silence – Tehran


7. June 19th: Poem for the Rooftops of Iran

From the video’s description: “A woman speaking about the state of her country while filming the rooftop shouting of “Allah-o Akbar” in Iran on Friday June 19th”

The poem and the background noise make this video evoke emotions that are unlike most of the other videos coming out of Iran.

8. June 20: Wounded Girl Dying [GRAPHIC CONTENT] – Neda

WARNING: The following video is very graphic, disturbing, and involves the death of an Iranian woman.

DO NOT WATCH unless you feel capable AND are old enough.

image Warning: this video is extremely graphic and troubling. Viewer discretion is strongly advised – if you’re at all uncomfortable with violent scenes, you should not view it. Please also view the description below, and be aware that the clip is absolutely unsuitable for minors.

We remind you that we include this clip because we believe in free access to information, however unpleasant: your decision to view it is entirely your own.

The video has now been picked up by TIME.com, USAToday’s On Deadline blog and Sky News. An LATimes blog, meanwhile, claims it is “becoming a rallying symbol for opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” In all, Google News counts 26 news articles mentioning Neda at the time of writing. Thousands of blogs have commented on the clip.

Among the myriad Tweets and Facebook messages, could it be that a YouTube video becomes the galvanizing moment in Iran’s troubled election? And as some outlets declare this the “Twitter revolution“, did they overlook the power of online video to shape world events?

At 19:05 June 20th
Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st.

A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.
The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St.

9. June 20th: Tehran Tazahorat

You can’t help but be amazed by the sheer number of people in the streets. THis video has been passed around a lot recently in social circles, and for good reason. It’s incredible, just like all of the videos here.

Iran is a nation in chaos, and as we monitor the situation, we must realize that social tools provide us with unfettered access to the situation.

Sometimes, that access can be disturbing. The flip side though is that we can truly know what’s going on in Iran. This way, we really stay informed.

Source: mashable.com

Hillary Clinton defends Twitter efforts for Iran

17 06 2009 – The U.S. urged the networking service to delay maintenance so the system would keep running, leading to complaints from Iran’s government. Twitter has helped protesters communicate amid a clampdown.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday defended U.S. efforts to ensure that the Twitter social networking service has remained available for use by Iranian protesters, even as Tehran complained about U.S. interference in its affairs.

Clinton said that Twitter has been essential in allowing Iranian protesters, especially the young, to remain in touch in the aftermath of last week’s disputed presidential election.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Read  also:

Iran Elections: A Twitter Revolution?

Why Twitter Has Gone Green and Why You Should Too

Once a twit, now a major player

Iranians Keep Twittering Thanks To Young Obama Official 

Video BBC: Call for day of mourning in Iran

Video CBS: Iran Lashes Out At U.S.

Video AlJazeera: Iranians abroad rally against ‘stolen’ election

Video: Iranians tweet their displeasure

17 06 2009 – With a media ban stifling coverage from within Iran, protesters are turning to Twitter to get their message out.

Supporters of defeated presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi posted defiant messages on Twitter and Facebook, and uploaded videos of protests to share sites like YouTube.

Social networking websites have become a focal point for young Iranians opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Mousavi has almost 48,000 supporters on his main Facebook page. Ahmadinejad also has a page with 2,615 fans, while the "I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who dislike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!" group has more than 57,000 members.

Source: reuters.com

See also:

Iran’s Cyberwarriors Stay Ahead Of Government Censors

Iran clamps down on Twitter in attempt to control images of election protests

State Department undermines Obama reluctance over Iran with Twitter request

Twitter stayed online for Iran chaos

17 06 2009 – The State Department this week asked Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintenance shutdown of its service to keep information flowing from inside Iran amid the growing crisis over its disputed election, three U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The officials said the department intervened with Twitter executives to urge them to delay a planned shutdown of the microblogging site that would have kept it offline for 90 minutes during what would have been daytime on Monday in Iran.

The request was apparently honored by Twitter, to ensure Iranians would be able to communicate with each other if other communication avenues were shut down during that brief postelection period.

The move also allowed the U.S. government to maintain access to eyewitness accounts of what is happening on the ground in Iran, the officials said. Iran has been roiled by protests after hardline incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced the winner over opposition challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Twitter announced on its Web site Monday that it had rescheduled the maintenance shutdown citing "the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran."

Twitter postponed the maintenance one day.

Source: The Associated Press

From the Twitter blog:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Down Time Rescheduled

A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight’s planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

Our partners are taking a huge risk not just for Twitter but also the other services they support worldwide—we commend them for being flexible in what is essentially an inflexible situation. We chose NTT America Enterprise Hosting Services early last year specifically because of their impeccable history of reliability and global perspective. Today’s decision and actions continue to prove why NTT America is such a powerful partner for Twitter.

See also:

HOW TO: Track Iran Election with Twitter and Social Media

HOW TO: Track Iran Election with Twitter and Social Media

15 06 2009 – On June 12th, Iran held its presidential elections between incumbent Ahmadinejad and rival Mousavi. The result, a landslide for Ahmadinejad, has led to violent riots across Iran, charges of voting fraud, and protests worldwide.

image How can you best keep up with what’s happening in real-time, and what web tools can help us make sense of the information available?

This guide breaks down the best new media sources for real-time information, photos, and videos of the Iran situation, as well as ways to organize and share it with others.

1. Track Iran-related hashtags and keywords on Twitter

Iran Twitter ImageTwitter is, far and away, the best social media tool for second-by-second information on what’s happening in Iran. People on-the-ground and across the globe are chatting about every breaking update, every news item, and every story they find. However, all this chatter can be overwhelming – here are some tips to help organize the noise:

Know your hashtags: The top hashtags and keywords being used by people talking about the Iran situation are #IranElection, Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, and Tehran. Track these keywords first.

Twitter Search: You can go to the source and search Twitter for keywords.

Monitter: One of our favorite tools, Monitter goes a step beyond Twitter search and allows you to watch the Twitter conversation around keywords in real-time. Create multiple columns or even embed them with a widget. This makes it much easier to consume all the information at once.

Please note that while Twitter is the fastest source of breaking news, it’s also sometimes a source of misinformation, and has a poor signal-to-noise ratio.

2. YouTube is your ally

Everybody’s favorite social video site YouTube has been a central distribution medium for the Iran riots. Iranians have been posting videos nonstop of what’s happening on the ground. This really is the best way to see what’s happening without any filters.

Now, how to find the videos? We’ve picked out key YouTube accounts and search terms to track for the latest videos out of Iran:

Iran Riots

Associated Press YouTube Channel

Iran Protests (sorted by newest videos)

Irandoost09’s channel

Iran Election 2009 (sorted by newest videos)

3. Blogs moving faster than the news

While most news sources are now picking up on the Iran situation, the blogosphere has been far quicker with news and multimedia from Iran. Thus, your best bet for organizing all of this blog chatter is via Google Blog Search. Compliment this with Google News and you’ll have a fuller picture of the situation on the ground. Google’s algorithms have already pushed Iran election stories to the top of the pile, but you can dig deeper with specific searches for the Iran Riots, Ahmadinejad and Mousavi.

Extra Note: One blog stands out for its Iran coverage: Revolutionary Road has been bringing constant updates on the Iran Riots from the front lines. We rely on citizens like these to get us news from the ground.

4. Flickr images really tell the story

Iran Riots

Image Credit: TheStyx via Flickr

The social media photo site Flickr is brimming with some eye-popping and gut-wrenching imagery from the ground. Beatings, protests, military photos from the election…it’s all there, in full color.

Once again, search terms like Iran Elections and Iran Riots 2009 will help you pinpoint the most relevant images.

5. Final notes

Social media comes fast, and because of that, the information can be overwhelming. Use filters and tools to help you understand what’s happening in real-time. If you’re looking for background on the situation, get yourself up-to-speed using Wikipedia(Iranian presidential elections 2009 and 2009 Iranian election protests are being constantly updated).

Finally, if you want to help bring awareness to the situation, then share! Share the videos you find via Twitter, blog about the situation, email your friends: everybody can play a part in this new media ecosystem.

Source: mashable.com

Iran blocks access to Facebook

Facebook25 05 2009 – Facebook expressed disappointment over the ban. Iran has blocked access to social networking site Facebook ahead of June’s presidential elections, Iran’s Ilna news agency and web users say.

Ilna says the move is aimed at stopping supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi from using the site for his campaign.

Facebook, which says it has 175m users worldwide, expressed its disappointment over the reported ban.

So far there has been no comment from the Tehran authorities.

‘Access not possible’

"Access to the Facebook site was prohibited several days ahead of the presidential elections," Ilna reported.

Mousavi registers at the interior ministry in Tehran

Mr Mousavi was Iran’s prime minister when the post was abolished in 1989

It said that "according to certain Internet surfers, the site was banned because supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi were using Facebook to better disseminate the candidate’s positions".

CNN staff in Tehran reported that people attempting to visit the site received a message in Farsi that said: "Access to this site is not possible."

Facebook expressed disappointment that its site was apparently blocked in Iran "at a time when voters are turning to the Internet as a source of information about election candidates and their positions".

Mir Hossein Mousavi, a former prime minister, is seen as one of the leading challengers to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 12 June elections.

His page on Facebook has more than 5,000 supporters.

Source: bbc