Iran is imposing increasingly severe restrictions on access to the internet, albeit still short of a total shutdown, in an apparent bid to limit the sharing of footage of protests which have erupted nationwide, activists charge.
Campaigners and Persian-language television channels outside Iran have noted a reduction in the posting of footage of the protests filmed on mobile phones, almost two weeks into the movement that erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini.
“It’s still not an internet shutdown, and it’s hard to even describe what they are doing to the network as ‘shutdowns’. Perhaps extreme throttling is the best simple term for it,” said the Iran researcher for freedom of expression group Article 19, Mahsa Alimardani.
The restrictions still fall short of the total shutdown seen in November 2019 when a crackdown on less than a week of protests, according to Amnesty International, left at least 321 people dead.
“The authorities seem to have learned how dangerous this is for their economy or overall public relations,” commented Alimardani.
Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR), which says 76 people have been killed in the crackdown so far, said internet access has either been “severely disrupted or completely cut” over the last days.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said: “Twelve days after the beginning of the protests, the internet network is still down daily throughout the country.”
But how much such measures can help, especially in the short term, remains unclear.
“We hope these changes help, in some small way, people safely access information at this important time,” it added.
But Alimardani described using and accessing VPNs right now as “hit and miss” for Iranians with the blocking of the Google Play Store, a major blow when most Iranians are using Android mobile phones with their Google operating systems.
Originally published as Iran ‘throttling’ internet to limit protest footage: activists