|Mohammad-Ali Movahedi Kermani: not liking the Internet
In the latest desperate attempt to subvert the freedom of Iranian expression, the regime wants to enforce permits for foreign social network applications, such as Telegram and Instagram, with membership of 5000 or more users. The desire for such control also extends to other domestic platforms including Salam Up, Soroush, BisPhone, Cloob and Syna, along with advertising, news and entertainment channels on social media networks.
The cleric Mohammad-Ali Movahedi Kermani thinks that the Internet is a threat to Islam, because the Internet is full of rampant “tele-sex” and in his eyes is ultimately “immoral”. So concerned is Movahedi Kermani, that he puts the importance of subverting such “evil” as being above electoral issues or other pressing concerns, such as use of the Hijab.
|Mahmoud Vaezi: deluded
Telecommunications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi thinks that channels with 5000 or more members should require permits so that the poor naive Iranian population can be assured such channels will not be fooling them with false information. Vaezi has been involved in Iran’s “filternet”, after Ahmadinejad‘s attempts in 2007 to “control” the Internet, and now the replacement “national-Internet” or Shoma, is vainly trying to do the same thing. Badly.
The Deputy Culture Minister for Communications Technology and Digital Media, Ali-Akbar Shirkavand, also wants a website that will soon be launched for administrators of such “channels” to register and continue their activities after authentication. The fear is, such controls by the regime could affect the opinions of journalists, artists and celebrities.
Cyber Police (FATA): Losing the plot
FATA chief, Brigadier General Kamal Hadianfar said that Telegram is the main platform for cybercrimes among mobile social networks. “The platform for 66% of the crimes is Telegram, while Instagram accounts for 20% and less than 2% is observed on WhatsApp,” he said, without clarifying what “cybercrimes” were being committed via such applications… perhaps they include (according to Shirkavand anyway) copyright infringement and the sale of “immoral” goods on such channels.
|Kamal Hadianfar: battling the “evils” of social networks
A reality check: discord and feasibility
The regime’s desire to crack-down on Internet freedoms is at odds with an overtly more liberal stance on such technology by Hassan Rouhani; Rouhani calls for more freedom of expression, but everyone else wants to suppress it #awkward. For example, Attorney General Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Jafar Montazeri wants to shut down what he calls “anti-religion” networks and said of them: “Down with the freedom that is destroying everything…this is absolute enslavement”.
There is also the minor issue (conveniently overlooked by the regime) of Iran’s inability to see the encrypted communications of platforms such as Telegram, and vain requests to get access to servers that must be placed in Iran are naive, at best. Also, what are the sentences to be expected by such “cybercriminals” who would dare to use such platforms? The whole thing is a joke and everyone knows it (even the regime).
Cyber-attacks against Israel have increased 500% in the last month and in a new report it is written that a powerful botnet is controlled by a pro-Islamic Iranian group of hackers and was used as part of a cyber-campaign with the support of Anonymous.
The increase in attacks coincided with the launch of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge offensive against Gaza.
Following three weeks of intensive attacks on the ground and in cyberspace, the volume of DDoS attacks decreased on 27 July, this coincided with a temporary ceasefire in fighting between Israel and Gaza.
The attack method (which uses things such as “malformed DNS queries”, “layer-7 HTTP and HTTP/S attacks”, and “repeated page downloads and GETs/POSTs against non-existent URIs”) has a “striking resemblance to the Brobot-based attacks” which have been first seen in 2012, but which have been silent for almost a year.
Brobot is a powerful botnet (network of zombie computers) which was first used in 2012 as part of Operation Ababil, which was a series of cyber-attacks carried out by the Qassam Cyber Fighters (also known as the Cyber fighters of Izz Ad-Din Al Qassam) against US financial institutions and continued until July 2013.
Brobot is being used to attack Israeli civilian governmental agencies, military agencies, financial services and Israeli cc TLD DNS infrastructure, and as the Israeli-Gaza conflict continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see the cyber-conflict also evolve alongside it.
Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi said on Wednesday that Iran plans to introduce “smart filtering” which only keeps out sites which the Islamic government considers them to be immoral to loosen internet censorship.
Internet use is high in Iran partly because many young Iranians use the internet to bypass an official ban on western cultural products and Tehran occasionally filters popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Censorship has weakened somewhat since Hassan Rouhani was elected last year as a moderate and the smart filter initiative seems to reflect this.
Vaezi said: “We have signed agreements with three universities and research institutes to develop smart filtering to block only depraved and immoral sites but allow access to other pages,” but without naming the organisations involved.
Mehr news agency quoted Vaezi who said to journalists: “Smart filtering is used for specific targets only and presently the project is undergoing experiments.”
The minister did not make clear what would be considered depraved and immoral, but Iranian clerics frequently use the terms to mean anything from pictures of women in revealing Western clothing to outright pornography.
But he dismissed rumours that Tehran will start filtering the latest teen fashion, WhatsApp Messenger instant messaging service. He added: “What is being said about this matter is mainly nonsense, propaganda.”
Also the Mehr report did not mention the latest internet fashion, a Facebookpage where women post pictures of themselves without their obligatory headscarf.
Cyberspace has been a controversial phenomenon in the Islamic Republic like satellite television and music videos in earlier decades because of political and also moral concerns.
Many in the conservative clerics long opposed the introduction of internet into Iran and since its debut, demanded tighter supervision.
Their offensive peaked during a crackdown on freedom of speech after the mass protests in 2009 against the disputed re-election of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2009.