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Iran Is Blocking the Internet to Shut Down Protests

Reports say mobile services like Telegram have been shut down as protests continue across the country.

Ankita Rao

Ankita Rao

Image: Eduardo Woo/Flickr

As protests over economic instability and government censorship persist in Iran, the Hassan Rouhani government has reportedly wielded its favorite suppression tactic: blocking the internet.

Multiple reports say the government was blocking internet on mobile networks starting on Dec. 30, including social media services like Instagram and messaging services like Telegram, to try and stop the protesters from organizing and amplifying their message. This is the biggest anti-government public demonstration since 2009.

“How nervous the government is about losing control over the population is proportional to various control tactics they implement over the Internet,” said Mahsa Alimardani, who researches internet freedoms in Iran for Article 19 (and writes for Motherboard). “In the past few hours there are also some reports of home connections (up until today mostly left undisturbed) also facing some blocks to accessing foreign web content.”

The extent of this blackout is not yet clear—Iranian students and others have reported that desktop versions of the Telegram system were still working, and internet research company Oracle detected DNS queries.