Iran internet law sparks suspicion

Experts say legislation could be used to monitor users of cyberspace.

    Reports say Ahmadinejad has already ordered 
    the implementation of the law [AFP]

    'Censorship tool'

    Rob Faris, a research director at the Harvard University's Berkman Centre, told Al Jazeera that the new law could serve as an additional tool for the authorities to keep an eye on cyberspace.

    "Given how internet savvy the young Iranians are and the help they are getting from Iranian expats, whatever law Ahmadinejad passes, there will be a way round it"

    Potkin Azarmehr, Iranian blogger

    "For blogs that include restricted content, this legislation could give authorities one more way to go after them, though this doesn't seem needed.

    "The government has not been constrained in the past by a lack of legal instruments."

    But the government insists the law is aimed at reducing cyber crimes and providing surfers with more security in cyberspace.

    Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi, the prosecutor general, said on Sunday that the law would protect the rights of the people and prevent violation of their privacy in cyberspace.

    Faris agreed that the law could help tackle pornography and other "forbidden" content hosted within Iran.

    "If this legislation is indeed used to prevent fraud and privacy violations, this could be helpful." he said.

    Post-poll turmoil

    The law comes amid continuing political tensions in Iran following a disputed presidential election on June 12.

    The election, which saw Ahmadinejad returned to office for a second-term by a wide margin, tirggered widespread protests prompting the government in Tehran to severely restrict public access to the internet.

    Social networking sites, such as Facebook, that enable people to communicate were blocked and mobile phone services disrupted during the height of the protests.

    Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media censorship watchdog, has said the Iranian government is "aware of the growing influence of weblogs and is trying to restrict them by filtering sites that host them and set them up".

    However, Potkin Azarmehr, an Iranian blogger based in London, said the plan to censor the internet might not work.

    "Given how internet savvy the young Iranians are and the help they are getting from Iranian expats, whatever law Ahmadinejad passes, there will be a way round it," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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