Internet Censorship in Iran

by Adam Gill

Internet censorship in Iran has been escalating lately. During the initial years after the introduction and rapid development of the Internet, Iran, in addition to several other countries around the world, found an immense increase in the usage of the public network, and is now found to rank second highest in the percentage of population in the Middle East using the Internet, the first country being Israel. Earlier, people of Iran considered Internet as an effortless method to circumvent the rigid press laws of the country. However, the level of internet censorship in the country started to increase from the year 2005, and in the year 2010, Iran was named as Enemies of the Internet among various other countries.

Internet Service Providers in Iran

Each and every Internet Service Provider (ISP) operating in Iran is required to be authorized both by the country’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and by the TCI (Telecommunication Company of Iran). ISPs are also required to incorporate software for content control for emails and certain websites. If an ISP fails to abide the censorship rules dictated by the government, they will be charged with heavy penalties. And there are cases where several ISPs in the country were shut down for not following the rules of internet censorship in Iran. Iranian government has blocked access to more than 15,000 websites from the country, and therefore, before a user is allowed to access the internet by using the services of an Internet Service Provider, he or she should mention in writing that they will not try to access non-islamic websites and other banned sites.

Techniques Used by the Iranian Government

The government of Iran has been found to implement various techniques to take into control the internet access of its users. Some of these techniques include the following:

  • DNS redirection: DNS is the Domain Name System distributed to services or networks that are connected to a public network, like the internet, or a private network. By using the DNS redirection technique, the queries sent for certain websites will be responded with a duplicate IP address.
  • Speed limitations on broadband connections: The bandwidth of home internet users in the country has been limited to 128 kb per second. This limitation is issued by the government to prevent users from gaining access to various multimedia content online, like audio and video streaming. However, university students, faculty members, and researches will be given special permission to access relevant contents online, provided they submit pertinent documentation to authorities.
  • Connection throttling: Iran also deploys connection or bandwidth throttling technique to control internet access of the country’s users, especially when there is economic and political unrest in the country. Connection throttling refers to deliberate slowing down of users’ internet service by their internet service provider. Sometimes, the country’s authorities throttled speed to certain websites and web services, and during other times, they were also found to throttle complete internet traffic. It has also been reported that Iranian authorities throttled or blocked certain protocols like SSH, HTTPS, etc.
  • Keyword filtering: Iranian government blocks access to the URLs of those websites that contain specific keywords. These blocked keywords listed by the authorities actually contained terms that were used frequently to gain access to websites with adult content. In addition, the country also prohibits access to certain websites by way of HTTP host headers.

In addition to blocking several websites and web services, the government of Iran also blocks the two most widely used and popular social networking portals, Facebook and Twitter, making it virtually impossible for the country’s internet users to access these sites legally.

The State of Tourists

All of these blockades affect not just those users who belong to the country, but also people from other countries who visit Iran on business or leisure. Several business personnel from around the world tend to visit Iran quite often. For such people, internet censorship in Iran happens to be a huge issue, especially when it comes to communicating with their peers or family members in their home country or performing financial transactions on their online banking account. As Iranian authorities block most of the social networking and VoIP websites, it becomes extremely difficult for tourists or expats to remain in touch with their loved ones and colleagues back home. In addition to this, the country’s ISPs are asked to place filters even for emails, which makes it even more annoying and hard for these people to access the internet, especially if they are from a country where there is no strict censorship practices in place.

How to Circumvent Internet Censorship in Iran?

Experts suggest that the best available way to bypass internet censorship in Iran is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). In order to make this possible, you must first sign up with a reliable VPN service provider. Upon signing up, you will be able to connect to a server operated by the provider in a different country. From this server, you will be obtaining a new IP address, a one from the country in which the server is located, which will replace your current Iranian IP address. This replacement of IP address is necessary because when you access the internet in Iran, all your online activities will be monitored by the country’s authorities by following your IP address. However, when you use a VPN to obtain a different IP address, your new IP will mask your old one, and you will be able to access all your favorite websites without having to worry about being tracked down by the ISP or the government.Iran VPN

In addition to this, a VPN connection will also provide you a safe and secure network connection, through which you will be able to perform all banking transactions directly online and also send or receive crucial business or personal data, with no concerns about your information getting lost or stolen by cybercriminals.

Best VPN to Bypass Internet Censorship in Iran

If you have decided to use a VPN for internet access in Iran, then following are the top providers you should consider signing up with:

RankProvider NameStarting PriceMoney Back Guarantee
Visit Provider Site
ExpressVPN$6.67/month30 Daysvisit expressvpn
2Hidemyass$11.52/month30 Daysvisit hidemyass
3IPVanish$10.00/month7 Daysvisit ipvanish
4VyprVPN$10.00/Month7 Daysvisit vyprvpn
5StrongVPN$10.00/month7 Daysvisit strongvpn
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