- The internet in Iran is getting disrupted again, as demonstrations are taking place in major cities.
- The local regime wants to undermine the organizing of these protests and prevent communication between activists.
- The Iranian government is planning to introduce a national intranet and cut all internet access soon.
The NetBlocks internet observatory reports about partial internet disruptions in Iran, starting from yesterday morning and still in place today. The impact of internet outages is not very extensive, yet it remains definitely noticeable. As the data indicates, there have been two sudden falls in the internet connectivity, with the first one happening at 6:30 a.m. local time (03:00 UTC) and the second at 8:00 a.m. (04:30 UTC). The network operator that was mostly affected by this is ‘RighTel’, the country’s third-largest mobile internet provider.
Confirmed: Evidence of mobile internet disruption in parts of #Iran beginning ~6:30 a.m. (03:00 UTC); real-time network data show two distinct drops in connectivity this morning amid reports of regional outages; incident ongoing 📉 #Internet4Iran
— NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) December 25, 2019
The researchers tried to make correlations with international issues, but there aren’t any. Since the disruptions have evident characteristics of targeted blocks, the possibility of this being due to technical problems can be confidently ruled out. Thus, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the reason behind the outages is the impending protests that were planned for today. This is something that the Iranian government has done before in November when people were out on the streets protesting again. Shutting down the internet right before and during protests makes it harder for the activists to organize a successful act of remonstrance, as the coordination and communication channels are shut.
Yesterday night, protesters have started to gather in Tehran, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj, with the state forces confronting them with tear gas and shooting into the air. A local news agency claims that the internet shutdown was a direct order from the Communications and Information Technology Ministry, covering most provinces in the country. The reason why these protests are so intense and why there’s so much violence is that the people in Iran have seen their relatives being killed during last month’s unrest, the gas price has climbed to unprecedented levels, and the state is generally entering an extremely oppressive phase.
With all that is going on, the regime is planning to launch what they call the “National Information Network” (NIN), which will be a heavily restricted and controlled intranet in place of the world wide web. People won’t be able to use VPN solutions there, and no data requests will be routed outside the country. According to recent statements from official sources, the NIN is already 80% complete, so these internet disruptions are soon to be a thing of the past for Iran. Instead, the people there will be cut off entirely from the rest of the world.