The Listening Post

Controlling Iran’s cyberspace

With presidential elections coming up in 2013, the Iranian government is determined to win the information battle.

On Listening Post this week: The battle for control of Iran’s cyberspace. Plus, Kashmir and the rise of a new online army.

The Iranian government’s decision to block Google last week provoked concerns among the country’s online community that the Persian firewall had just become harder to penetrate. Then, just as quickly as it had been disconnected, Google came back online. But despite the u-turn, for many, the Google incident reflected the government’s wider strategy to control who is saying what to whom in Iran. 

There are plans to expand the national intranet, which connects government agencies and offices, to include an Iranian web search and email service. And there are presidential elections coming up in nine months – so it is not any surprise that the mechanisms of control are getting tougher given the role the internet played in post-election protests back in 2009. This week’s News Divide looks at the government’s fight to gain ground in Iranian cyberspace.

Our Newsbytes this week: Syria: A video clip of missing American journalist Austin Tice has surfaced but all is not what it seems to be on screen; Cambodia: A prominent radio journalists sentenced to 20 years in jail on charges of plotting against the state; Italy: the editor of one of Italy’s largest daily newspapers, Il Giornale, owned by the Berlusconi family, has been sentenced to 14 months in jail on charges of libel; and the Philippines and its controversial new cyber crime law.

Kashmir’s online army

The dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has been a flashpoint on the sub-continent since 1947. There are more than half a million troops positioned on the Indian side alone. But you do not hear that much about it. And that is how the Indian authorities like it. But in the past few years, a host of new online voices have emerged including bloggers, filmmakers and authors who have taken their stories to web audiences in India, Pakistan and the world.

The Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi reports on the rise of the Kashmiri alternative media collective.

In our video of the week, with the US elections on the horizon the Obama and Romney campaigns are saturating the media – and even the team at the Listening Post is tempted to to hit mute every now and then. And that is where this week’s viral video comes in – a Texas-based music producer who has now come up with a video series that spoof the candidates by dubbing an alternative voice track that syncs with their original lip movements. We think the results are pretty funny. ‘Bad Lip Reading’ is our web video of the week. We hope you enjoy it – and maybe come up with a few of your own!


Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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