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by Mike Zazaian October 19, 2006 - 1:32pm, 5 Comments

The filter screen displayed when Iranian citizens attempt to access censored websites

The Iranian government has declared it illegal for internet service providers to offer broadband internet connections in an effort to protect the country’s Islamic beliefs from Western influence.

As reported in The Guardian today, Iran’s telecommunications regulator has forbidden ISPs from providing internet service with transfer rates above 128 kilobytes per second. Iranian authorities believe that media taken in from Western culture is undermining the Islamic principles of the country, and that the implementation of slower internet access is a way to curb that influence. The Government also aims to hinder the ability of opposing political groups to use the internet as a political weapon against the current regime.

Not all members of the Iranian government are in favor of the move, however. Ramazan-ali Sedeghzadeh, chairman of the parliamentary telecommunications committee believes that restricting internet connections will only curb Iran’s progress as the rest of the world transitions to digital information economies. Said Sedeghzadeh:

Every country in the world is moving towards modernisation and a major element of this is high-speed internet access. The country needs it for development and access to contemporary science.

The broadband ban seems to more of an inconvenience to its citizens than absolute censorship. Even with broadband in place the Iranian government censors and filters thousands of internet sites, quite ironically using state-of-the-art US-made filtering equipment. In fact, the only country that censors more websites than Iran is China. Some of the craftier citizens have found ways around the government-implemented filters, however, using anti-filter software to access otherwise censored websites.

The move comes shortly after Iran’s ban on personal TV satellite dishes. Much in the same vein as the internet ban, the Iranian government sought to limit western exposure to its citizens by removing the ability to receive international television broadcasts. Police in Iran have seized thousands of such satellite dishes over the past few months.