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Iranians resist internet censorship amid deadly street protests

Tor usage skyrockets as citizens try to bypass blocks

Iranian authorities have blocked Instagram and other social media platforms in response to a wave of street protests across the country this week.

The clampdown has resulted in Tor users climbing from around 6k at the beginning of December to over 10,000 at the last count as citizens seek to circumvent the controls, according to official stats.

The Islamic Republic's government has blocked Telegram and Instagram amid demonstrations, initially about economic conditions, in which at least 22 people have lost their lives.

In a possibly related development, a BGP routing protocol outage hit Iran yesterday (January 1).

Telegram's "public channels" are an important source of news for many in Iran partly because competing services such as Twitter and Facebook have long since been blocked.

Iranian authorities have previously permitted Telegram because of the messaging service's use of local (closed) content delivery networks, a technical decision that has attracted both concern and calls for greater transparency from human rights advocates.

Telegram has 25 million daily users in Iran, according to estimates cited by celeb whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Pavel Durov, Telegram's founder, confirmed that Iran has "blocked access to Telegram for its citizens due to opposition activity in channels" clarifying that this was different from Telegram's own decision to block a particular channel that was advocating violence against the Iranian police.

A presentation by tech expert and human rights activist Mahsa Alimardani at last week's 34C3 conference on internet censorship in Iran and related topics can be found below. ®

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