The Iranian government is slowing down, disrupting, or even cutting off the internet inside its country as a method of social control.
The authorities and the suppressive forces, like the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Basij, express fear daily over the “freedoms” of the people on the internet possibly leading to protests, which then forces politicians to pass laws regulating the internet and suppressing information.
This isn’t new. In the 1980s, the ayatollahs tried to ban VCRs for the same reason, with arrests and fines for being caught in possession of a videotape or the machine to play it on. These laws were rescinded in 1993 when satellite TV channels posed a greater concern for the continued rule of the ayatollahs.
These channels aired programs on issues that the ayatollahs had tried to cover up over the years, which led to a ban on satellite TVs and creation, distribution, repairing, or possession of satellite TV dishes punishable by fines, flogging, and prison.
This too failed. Those who detested the government (and these numbers just keep growing) installed the dishes anyway, risking punishment for access to information. Some 70 percent of households now have a dish and the authorities know that punishment is futile. After all, the information they keep trying to hide is now being widely shared online.
Even state-run media outlets like Shargh daily warned that fighting the internet would be another crushing defeat for ayatollahs and warned the ayatollahs against filtering the internet because the people would find a way around it anyway.
So, given that the government knows that the repression just leads to further rebellion, why continue? They certainly can’t stop the spread of information, but they must try because their rue depends on obscuring as much of the truth from as many of the people for as long as possible or the government would stand no chance against the people in power.
“Submitting to the smallest gap in this dominance would give way to a series of retreats for the regime, which in turn means the beginning of the end for Iran’s regime. The bubble of a totalitarian establishment based on ‘lies’, ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘repression’ must always be protected in every way with the most extreme and barbaric methods,” the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq explained.
“Of course, failure of the regime to impose these oppressive restrictions indicate the Iranian people’s strength and determination who have stood against the mullahs’ repressive ambitions,” it added.