TMCNet:  Iran says use of VPN for getting access to Facebook a crime

[October 24, 2011]

Iran says use of VPN for getting access to Facebook a crime

TEHRAN, Oct 24, 2011 (dpa – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — Iran on Monday said use of virtual private networks (VPN), or proxy software, which Iranians mainly use to get access to the blocked social networking service Facebook, was a crime.

"Every country has its own rules for using the internet and we have our own, and use of VPN or other anti-filtering software is forbidden and considered as a crime," Telecommunication Minister Reza Taghipour said.

The announcement turns millions of Iranians into criminals as, according to official statistics, 17 million Iranians alone have a Facebook account which they reach on a daily basis through various (VPN) or proxy software software.

VPN is also used by Iranians to get access to over 5 million blocked websites, including popular ones such as YouTube, or those belonging to filtered Iranian opposition groups.

The minister further said providers of VPN services should know that they were part of the "soft war conspiracy" by the West against Iran, with the aim of propagating Western norms for undermining religious beliefs of the Iranian youth.

"We have to and will take any necessary measure to confront this soft war," the minister said, according to ISNA news agency.

Taqi had earlier this year announced that Iran would launch its national version of the internet by the end of August. But, so far, the national service had been postponed until further notice for unclear reasons.

Although the national internet was supposed to increase speed and reduce expensive subscription fees, some critics say the project is primarily aimed at controlling the use of the internet in Iran.

The blocked internet sites in Iran are either forbidden because of what the officials call 'immoralities,' a reference to pornographic material, or for political reasons.

Searches for any sexual terms are blocked, and so are also almost all local opposition websites, several Western newspapers, magazines and social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Iran also plans to introduce its own local search engine by the beginning of 2012. In an apparent reference to Yahoo, the Iranian search engine will be termed 'Ya Haq,' which means Calling God.

___ (c)2011 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) Visit Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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