During the recent election campaign Iranians who rely on Skype to talk to friends and family resigned themselves to the internet being deliberately throttled. Speeds were painfully slow, virtual private networks (VPN) - used to evade filters - were neutered, and sometimes there was no connection at all.
For the government it was all a part of keeping the country calm during a potentially tense time. For Iran’s over forty million internet users, it is seriously stressful. Families cannot stay in touch and businesses cannot operate normally.
Although there are reports that internet speeds are back to normal now the election is over, a more worrying threat still remains. The threat is that Iran will develop its own internet and use this as an excuse to cut itself off from the world wide web. The idea has been proposed before, and it was re-stated again during a recent diplomatic meeting in Beijing where the internet came up as a topic of mutual interest between China and Iran. Mohammad Hassan Nami, Iran’s minister of communications and information, said that Iran believed in establishing a ‘clean’ internet to ‘protect the institution of the family’.
While Iran deserves the support of Christians for its robust hostility to pornographic sites, nevertheless to try and cut Iran off from the world wide web would not just cause intense frustration for all Iranians, but would also hamper the efforts of many Christians to share the Gospel.
• Iranians to enjoy normal internet speeds
• Access to good sites, especially Christian ones
• Wisdom for ministers responsible for internet