Friday, January 26, 2007

Islamic Bureau for Censorship

A few days ago I had a post about the rumors I had heard about registering websites/blogs, recently required by the government of Iran. At that time, I could not find the website it was said people have to register their websites in; I finally found it: ("samandehi" literally means "organizing"). As the website says, all websites and blogs with a top-level domain name has to be registered with the Bureau for Organizing Iranian Websites within two months beginning from January 28, 2007. As I have read, the term for having a top-level domain name has been silently added after the huge amount of protest from bloggers (and it is not reflected in the bylaw, yet!).

I spent some time reading all the information in the website and I found the entire plan enormously ridiculous. The bylaw, as presented in the website, defines an "internet sites" as "all centers in the Internet network that provide www and FTP services" (I'm literally quoting the phrase used). I cannot translate all the bylaw here for your amusement (it's quite long) but, accept it from me, everything about the website and the plan (including the very text of the bylaw) looks completely amateur and apparently shows the knowledge of the "governors" about the Internet itself.

An amusing point among all I read in the website, was that nowhere I could find anything about who this law applies to. Does it apply to Iranians? To those who live in Iran? To those who provide Persian language content? Or something else? No answer. And together with the fact that the government has announced that access to non-registered websites will be blocked, it can be used to block *any* website easier than before. Also notice that the bureau has complete power over the matter and does not even need the decision of a court.

Another issue that has been a matter of much discussion by Iranian bloggers is the location of the web servers that are going to store the important information the information the bureau collects (the information which even includes which database servers the website uses, if any). The location of the web servers can be easily tracked by looking up the location of the IP addresses obtained by a "whois". The web servers are located in China and the U.S.! Keyhan's justification of this is funny, too. (Keyhan is a hard-line Iranian daily). Keyhan believes this is a mistake made by "tracking the incorrect IP (Internet Provider)". Apparently, the Keyhan reporter does not have the slightest idea what IP and IP addresses are.

It seems the Islamic regime is strengthening its place as the greatest enemy of the Internet (only after China), but probably we'd better call it the most frightened government from the Internet (and the power of its citizens), and I believe "The Islamic Bureau for Censorship" makes a much better name for the bureau than "The Bureau for Organizing Iranian Websites", and it follows the tradition of calling the state-run agencies, "Islamic" ones. What do you think?


Jeremiah said...

Well, it is too bad that the rumors turned out to be true. However, if the Iranian government is as incompetent as your post indicates, then I guess it will be relatively easy to find some way around their attempted censorship?

Homayoon said...

Generally, yes. I think the main problems is for the companies and paper magazines which anyhow should register with the officials.

And the one thing that does not have a work around is blogging/having a website with your real identity. I, personally, like to use my real identity, but now everyone should go underground. Too bad.

ali t said...

i remembered "ticket for speeding" while skate-playing!!!