dailysummit.net Shines Spotlight
on Iranian Net Censorship

By Andrew L. Jaffee, December 11, 2003
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The website dailysummit.net has helped to turn some of the UN World Summit on the Information Society's focus to Iran's censorship of the Internet. According to the BBC, "hundreds" of Iranian Internet users have been posting comments on dailysummit.net complaining about Iranian government censorship of more than 10,000 websites.

Pro-democracy Iranians and their supporters are hoping to pressure UN technology summit delegates into lobbying Iran's government to loosen its Net censorship. The BBC claims that in spite of government censorship, Iranian blogs were instrumental in rapidly spreading word about the UN summit and recent moves by the authorities to restrict access to websites like Google.

As Iran's ultra-conservative judiciary has shut down several magazines and newspapers in the past few years, Iranian citizens are increasingly turning to the Web to get information. According to the BBC, the Iranian government is trying to limit the number of indigenous Internet service providers (ISP's). In other words, they want more Iranians obtaining Internet connections through a smaller number of ISP's. This way, authorities will have an easier time monitoring and controlling their peoples' Net access.

But sites like dailysummit.net are turning the pressure up on the Iranian government. Website members attending the UN summit, like Ahmed Reda, posed questions about Web censorship directly to Iranian President Khatami at a press conference. Though Khatami mentioned political blogs in Iran, he was evasive about the censorship issue. dailysummit.net members said they "confronted" an Iranian official at the UN summit over Net censorship:

How does Ahmad Motamedi, Iran's minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), explain the huge number of websites censored in his country? "Sometimes mistakes happen," he said.

Some mistake. In a rare interview, Mr Motamedi claimed that officially just 240 sites were banned in Iran and that no-one was punished for writing anti-government messages online.

He had a harder time explaining the arrest of Sina Motallebi, the journalist and blogger held earlier this year.

The people at dailysummit.net should be applauded for putting Iranian government officials on the spot. Khatami was elected president six years ago. He promised reform, but many Iranians have become fed up with the slow/nonexistent implementation of political changes. Iranians have since held many public demonstrations demanding reform. Most often, the authorities have responded with violence.

Violence is not reform. Censorship is not reform. Here are some ways you can support brave Iranians' struggle for freedom:

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