Web users in Iran have seen their access seriously curtailed today, with reports that the Iranian Government has blocked sites using the HTTPS protocol, meaning internet banking, Google services and various other sites cannot be reached. The decision to enact the ban is believed to be connected to the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Kabir News reports, with experts suggesting it is a temporary block rather than a permanent change.
Even so, HTTPS - or HTTP Secure - is vital to sites where user data is particularly sensitive, such as online banking and communications where the risk of eavesdropping is possible. The system adds an added encryption layer of SSL/TLS to regular HTTP traffic, with a certified server ensuring a trusted link between it and the user.
The censorship is not the first move against a free internet by the Iranian government. A monitoring system is believed to be in place, and ISPs are legally required to keep records of all data sent and received by subscribers. Similarly, internet cafés and other places with public web access must keep records of users, including full name, national identification number, postcode and telephone number, in addition to a record of which sites are viewed.
It's possible the government is hoping to prevent any possibility of public unrest, blocking off private communications that activists could use to organize protests.