On June 14, 2013, Iran is going to hold their presidential elections, an event we are watching very carefully. During the previous election in 2009, the government cracked down even further on the already limited online freedoms. This included briefly shutting down the Internet as a whole. In the intervening years, Iran has taken their censorship to new levels of sophistication, quietly building a Halal Internet. And is already limiting access to foreign sites in advance of the elections.
In order to get more information about what is occurring in Iran, Herdict is partnering with ASL 19, an interdisciplinary lab that monitors and reports on Internet and media censorship in Iran while supporting Iranian Internet users efforts at bypassing Internet censorship. In the past year, Herdict has received over 200 reports from Iran, but to glean useful information about the election, we need more. To help us collect more data, ASL 19 is educating their users about Herdict in the hopes that they will become contributing members of the Herdict community. Additionally, ASL 19 will be directing their circumvention traffic from Psiphon to a Herdict landing page. We hope this will allow us to collect real-time information as to what is happening in Iran during this difficult time.
This work is not without challenges. Psiphon itself is under assault from the Iranian censorship regime, and establishing reliable connections can be difficult. But we hope that ASL 19’s supporters will help us in improving global awareness about the sites currently blocked in Iran.
If you see an increase in Herdict reports from Iran over the next few weeks, this is because of ASL 19’s help and doesn’t necessarily reflect an increase in the levels of censorship in Iran – those levels are high and are likely to remain so for quite some time. Instead, when looking at Herdict data, pay attention to the kinds of sites that are blocked and look for changes to the accessibility of individual sites.
Thanks to our friends at ASL 19 for their help with this important project!
ASL 19 has translated this post into Farsi and made it available here