Iran president rejects net censorship slur

Blocking websites? Us?


The list of Iran's heinous crimes against humanity is certainly a long one. As one of the principal members of the Axis of Evil™, the Islamic fundamentalist state is doubtless guilty of developing nuclear and chemical weapons, giving succour to al-Qaeda, fomenting holy war against the West and cruelty to defenceless animals.

One thing it cannot, though, be accused of is Internet censorship. That's if president Mohammad Khatami is to be believed, who last week used the World Summit on the Information Society to paint a pretty picture of the democratic right of Iranians to surf with gay abandon.

It is not in fact the case that the Iranian authorities block access to more than 10,000 sites, but rather a mere 240 "not compatible with Islam", as Khatami puts it.

Furthermore, Khatami claims that: "Even political websites that are openly opposed to the Iranian Government ... are available to the Iranian people."

This will come as great relief to the hundreds of bloggers who beseiged WSIS forums to bemoan their treatment at the hands of the Iranian government.

Earlier this year, journo Sina Motallebi got himself banged up for running a blog featuring press interviews. He had previously been a writer for reformist paper Hayat-e-No until that was closed down.

This brings into question somewhat Khatami's claim that "we are not censoring criticism. Criticism is OK".

Which is just as well, really, because Iran's constitution - drafted after the Shah's demise - is fairly explicit on the matter of civil liberties:

Article 22: The dignity, life, property, rights, residence, and occupation of the individual are inviolate, except in cases sanctioned by law.
Article 23: The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.
Article 24: Publications and the press have freedom of expression except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public. The details of this exception will be specified by law.
Article 25: The inspection of letters and the failure to deliver them, the recording and disclosure of telephone conversations, the disclosure of telegraphic and telex communications, censorship, or the willful failure to transmit them, eavesdropping, and all forms of covert investigation are forbidden, except as provided by law.
Article 26: The formation of parties, societies, political or professional associations, as well as religious societies, whether Islamic or pertaining to one of the recognized religious minorities, is permitted provided they do not violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, the criteria of Islam, or the basis of the Islamic republic. No one may be prevented from participating in the aforementioned groups, or be compelled to participate in them.

Readers will note the handy "except when it is detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam or the rights of the public" get-out clause - a neat piece of forward thinking by the constitution's authors. To illustrate how useful this is in practice, here is a transcript of a recent Iranian cabinet meeting:

Mullah 1: I really think this blogging thing is getting out of hand.
Mullah 2: I agree. Here's one critisising the standard of rubbish collections in Tehran.
Mullah 3: Right, get me the Revolutionary Guard on the blower.
Mullah 1: Hold on a minute, what about article 24 of the constitution?
Mullah 3: Nah, this is clearly offensive to the fundamental principles of Islam.
Mullah 2: You're right. All those in favour of summary imprisonment, a bit of torture and a public flogging? Carried unanimously.

Perhaps this is a little unfair to the poor old Iranians, who have spent the last 30 years walking a political tightrope. Once universally reviled by a West who armed Saddam Hussein to fight a war against it, Iran later found itself rather more positively viewed when the Iraqi leader fell from grace. Then, no sooner had Saddam taken an early Ba'ath, the Persians were immediately promoted to the Premiership of international terror states, vying with strongly-fancied Sudan and Syria for the honour of being the next recipient of the "Allied Carpet Bombing Cup".

This does not excuse Iran's record on human rights, called by Amnesty International a "spiral of human rights violations".

As for president Mohammad Khatami and his claims of limited web censorship, we question this assertion in the time-honoured local fashion: "You're having a bloody laugh, aincha?" ®


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022