Iran has blocked the use of Virtual Private Networks that they deemed “illegal”. Authorities on the subject said that Iranians were using these VPNs to get around the government internet filter and have been using them to access “illegal” and restricted sites and services. The authorities stated that users are still able to purchase legal and government-registered VPNs, because some users, like those who work at financial institutions, need the VPNs for extra security.
Users in Iran have confirmed with Reuters that all illegal VPNs have been disabled. “VPNs are cut off. They’ve shut all the ports.” Users are unable to access social networks like Facebook and Twitter, or use services like Skype to make phone calls. Along with the blocking of the VPNs, the Iranian government have also blocked access to Google and Yahoo. The government plans on allowing restricted access to several social media networks in the future.
The Iranian Government is said to be restricting the internet access more severely because the country will be holding a presidential election in June. It wants to prevent the incidents that happened at the 2009 presidential election to happen again this year. In 2009, protesters used social media networks and e-mails to communicate with each other during the “Green Movement” demonstrations.
Along with the banning of VPNs, Iran also has plans of switching users over to a government-run internet service that will be largely isolated from the World Wide Web. The government plans on controlling the type of content that internet users are able to see, including the mentioned restrictions on social networks. The Iranian government said that its controlled internet is a way to increase cyber-security from “Western” attacks.