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Iran Caps Net Access to Keep West Out 356

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the my-mom-just-locked-my-keyboard-in-her-trunk dept.
davidwr writes "The Guardian reports that Iran has banned high-speed internet access to attempt to curb the west's influence. In addition to seizing satellite dishes and filtering more websites than any country save China, Iran is now capping Internet speeds to 128kbps in order to keep out Western influences." From the article: "The latest step has drawn condemnation from MPs, internet service companies and academics, who say it will hamper Iran's progress. 'Every country in the world is moving towards modernization and a major element of this is high-speed internet access,' said Ramazan-ali Sedeghzadeh, chairman of the parliamentary telecommunications committee. 'The country needs it for development and access to contemporary science.'"
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Iran Caps Net Access to Keep West Out

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  • by IcyNeko (891749) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:32PM (#16488477) Journal
    They can never stop the signal. Even if the signal is going at 128kbps
  • by Gerad (86818)
    "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

    Why do I always get this message when I'm trying to view a story about censorship?
  • Silly Iranians, high-speed Internet is for Westerners!

    But seriously, are they going to ban cars and television, too? We use those a lot in here in the west.

    • by From A Far Away Land (930780) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:38PM (#16488607) Homepage Journal
      I think we should beat Iran to the punch, and Ban TV here [abandonedstuff.com] before it's too late. Join the Teleban too, and save the children.

      It's just a modest proposal to save the world!
    • Re:Silly Iranians (Score:5, Insightful)

      by southpolesammy (150094) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:37PM (#16489803) Journal
      Perhaps if they just banned oil exports, they could then stop that inflow of filthy, moral corrupting American money.
    • by patrixmyth (167599) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:51PM (#16490111)
      First, they came for the newspapers, and I did nothing
      because the Farsi Side comic was just re-prints now.

      Next, they came for the books, and I looked the other way
      because the Death to America Book of the Month Club
      was only recommending books to burn anyway.

      Then, they came for the Satellite Dishes, and I said nothing
      because I still had a year left on my Infidelphia Cable contract.

      Finally, they came for my Internet Service, and no one was left
      to hear my ululation!

  • Is this a move to stop their citizens from being connected to the outside work? Or a move to stop westerns from doing digital attacks? If its the first one, I cant imagine that would make their citizens happy. It's basically a current day book burning. Only in the digital sense. Im also not sure what capping it at 128kbps will do, but whatever.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:42PM (#16488679)
      Capping it at 128kbps slows down downloads of music and movies. Why would you want to download these things? To see a movie that your government doesn't want you to buy...

      Of course, the intelligent citizens will know that they can just split the downloads amongst themselves, essentially bandwidth-pooling. Maybe we need to educate the government. [slashdot.org]

      • Capping it at 128kbps slows down downloads of music and movies. Why would you want to download these things? To see a movie that your government doesn't want you to buy...

        Or in other cases... to see a movie that the **AA does want you to buy. Not that I think Iran was thinking about the **AA in the slightest, but here's hoping this is a fad that just doesn't catch on...
    • by nizo (81281) *
      It gives the police time to arrive before your porn is finished downloading?
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:55PM (#16488993)
      The country is effectively a theocracy. The country does conduct votes and such, but it ultimately doesn't matter as the Ayatollah have the final say on everything. It is a highly oppressive in many ways. For example in the 2004 election the hardliners won a major victory. You might think this was the people's wish, but in fact the simple matter was the Council of Guardians disqualified most reformist candidates, including many incumbents. As for information access, well I'll quote Freedom House:

      "Freedom of expression is limited. The government directly controls all television and radio broadcasting. Satellite dishes are illegal, though widely tolerated, and the authorities have had some success in jamming broadcasts by dissident overseas satellite stations. The Ministry of Culture must approve publication of all books and inspects foreign books prior to domestic distribution. The Press Court has extensive procedural and jurisdictional power in prosecuting journalists, editors, and publishers for such vaguely worded offenses as "insulting Islam" and "damaging the foundations of the Islamic Republic." The authorities frequently issue ad hoc gag orders banning media coverage of specific topics and events. The government systematically censors internet content by forcing internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to a growing list of "immoral sites and political sites that insult the country's political and religious leaders.""
      • by soft_guy (534437)
        Iran is a preview of what our society will look like after the MPAA/RIAA get through with us.
    • by in2mind (988476)
      Im also not sure what capping it at 128kbps will do, but whatever.
      It will do nothing.
      People will still download all the things they want,only that it takes a few hours longer.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)
      If its the first one, I cant imagine that would make their citizens happy.

      Too bad. If the citizens don't like it, they should stop supporting their government and institute a new one.
    • by rynthetyn (618982)
      It's been my prediction for the last year or so that Iran has under 10 years before their government gets overthrown from within. My take is that this action just brought my prediction another step closer. The younger generation, by and large, doesn't like the restrictions, they don't buy into the apocalyptic religious extremism, and if they keep making life more and more uncomfortable for those folks, it's only a matter of time until they get fed up and another student revolt goes down.
  • But you can not take my porn!
  • These two nations don't seem all that different to me.
    • by Tweekster (949766) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:46PM (#16488789)
      It isnt that difficult of a concept. Iran does nothing for us, China is a major trade partner.
      That is why, it is pretty simple.
      • Many of the condemnations thrown against NK and Iran apply also to China. Yet we gladly trade with China, and impose economic snactions on the others.

        • I never thought I'd be saying anything positive about China's government, but I would consider it far more restrained, and thus safer as a regional power, than Iran's or North Korea's.
        • by Tweekster (949766)
          I thought I made it clear, China has something to offer us.

          Oh and China may be pretty bad, but in comparison to NK, they are not even on the same scale.
      • Iran does nothing for us, China is a major trade partner.

        Plus, China is less of a state sponsor of radical Islamic terrorists. They also spout less rhetoric about annihilating first-world democracies. And their leaders are 20% less psychopathic.

    • by TnkMkr (666446)
      Easy,
      You don't kick the dog that owns you.
    • Because China can kick our asses.

      China will be declared bad as soon as the powers that be think they've figured out a way to pummel them.
    • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:27PM (#16489629)
      • China hasn't threatenned to "wipe Israel off the map."
      • China doesn't refer to the US as the "Great Satan."
      • China doesn't support Hizbullah, a terrorist group which killed 241 Americans in a bombing in Beirut.
      • China didn't ship thousands upon thousands of rockets to terrorist group Hizbullah.
      • China didn't storm the US embassy and hold 66 diplomats and US citizens hostage for over a year.
      • China didn't use terrorists to bomb the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires.
      • China doesn't try to actively sabotage the peace process in the Middle East.
      Oh.... but Iran did.

      China has nuclear weapons, but not many people are worried that China would provide a terrorist group with a nuclear weapon. There is great uncertainty over what Iran would do with nuclear weapons and nuclear technology.

      China is far from perfect, but the general direction they are moving is towards a more open society and a market economy.

    • by vertinox (846076)
      These two nations don't seem all that different to me.

      Given the choice to live in a Secular Fascist nation and a Religious Theocracy... I would choose the Secular Fascist mostly because they tend to be more concerned about keeping power and making themselves wealthy than what I am up to as long as I'm not planning to overthrow them.

      Doesn't mean they might get paranoid one night and haul me away to a gulag because my name happened to match someone on a dissenter list, but I don't have to worry about them enf
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:39PM (#16488613) Homepage Journal
    Yes, cripple your country! Better to maintain strict control over a nation in poverty than be in charge of a prosperous one!

    (Interestingly, the same comparison can be made for overprotective parents, who would prefer keeping their children...well, children, rather than prepare them to become adults.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by griffjon (14945)
      I respect their desire to reduce the impact of Western cultural hegemony, but the better way to do this is to encourage your own culture to flourish, not to make others illicit. Does no one learn from US's prohibition attempts?
      • by mr_death (106532)
        The French tried to "protect" their culture by standing up the Language Police. I don't think it worked, but it gave the Frogs a lot to complain about.

        Heck, the US didn't learn anything from Prohibition -- we still have a Holy War on Some Drugs (alcohol and nicotine are OK), and we have a new Holy War on Online Gambling. It's for the children, of course.
      • by mi (197448)

        I respect their desire to reduce the impact of Western cultural hegemony, but the better way to do this is to encourage your own culture to flourish, not to make others illicit.

        It is not "the better way", it is "the only way"... Western's culture is dominant, because it is better — West's substantial wealth allows a lot more people to be involved in "cultural" pursuits, and our liberties allow them the required freedom to do so.

        On contrast, the best-known writer of Iranian origin is Salman Rushdie

        • by Tim C (15259)
          Western's culture is dominant, because it is better

          Is it dominant? It certainly dominates the English speaking world, but that's not what we're talking about here...

          On contrast, the best-known writer of Iranian origin is Salman Rushdie -- an expatriate with a credible death threat against him from an Iranian mullah.

          I would submit that the latter has a great bearing on the former; I'd certainly not have heard of him if it hadn't been for the fuss about The Satanic Verses. Which, of course, I'd almost certain
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        I respect their desire to reduce the impact of Western cultural hegemony, but the better way to do this is to encourage your own culture to flourish, not to make others illicit.

        Iran is an Islamic Republic run by religious fundamentalists.
        The nature of their culture is to keep out "Western" influences.

        The Iranian revolution was a direct result of dissatisfaction with the U.S./British imposed Shah.

        Does no one learn from US's prohibition attempts?

        Prohibition was the result of Xtian fundies making noise for dec

    • by Marnhinn (310256)
      It all comes down to power. The ruler(s) in charge probably think that it is easier to crush / prevent / stomp out a revolt / change of venue / dissent that lacks state of the art communication. Looking at it from the top down (the ruler's pov), I'd have to say they're right.
    • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

      by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:59PM (#16489067) Homepage Journal
      I don't think Iran is poverty stricken (see below); their education however appears to be pretty stunted (no surprise there). Heck I wouldn't mind being in control of the money from 2.5 million bbl/day of oil.


      Iran:
      Literacy: Definition Field Listing definition: age 15 and over can read and write
      total population: 79.4%
      male: 85.6%
      female: 73% (2003 est.)

      GDP (purchasing power parity):
              Definition Field Listing Rank Order
      $561.6 billion (2005 est.)

      United States:
      Literacy: Definition Field Listing definition: age 15 and over can read and write
      total population: 99%
      male: 99%
      female: 99% (2003 est.)

      GDP (purchasing power parity):
              Definition Field Listing Rank Order
      $12.36 trillion (2005 est.)

      • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pharmboy (216950) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:39PM (#16489833) Journal
        Pretty selective with your facts. How about these from the CIA World Factbook, where you got your info, comparing Iran and the US.

        GDP per capita
        US $41,800 (2005 est.)
        Iran $8,300 (2005 est.)

        Unemployment rate
        US 5.1% (now less then 5%)
        Iran 11.2%

        Population below the poverty level
        US 12%
        Iran 40%

        Inflation rate
        US 3.2%
        Iran 13.5%

        Many other numbers are not published, as Iran doesn't want them public. Iran sells lots of oil, but the citizens don't see much of the money. Too much is being sent to Siria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other places to support their biggest export, their religious philosophy.

        Make no mistake about it, Iran has more poverty than they want you to know about. Then again, if you live in Iran, what are you going to do, protest? BANG! One less person in poverty.
      • Where does it go? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:44PM (#16489961) Homepage Journal
        Looking at their total GDP isn't a good measure of poverty, because it doesn't say anything about the distribution of the resulting wealth that's being created. In the case of Iran, I have a feeling it's mostly concentrated in a small number of individuals.

        That said, based on some articles that I've read, life there for the average person isn't too bad in the physical sense; it's not poverty-stricken in the same way that parts of Africa or even South-east Asia are. The government uses oil revenues to heavily subsidize some consumer goods in order to keep the people happy (the price of gas there is ridiculous, I want to say around $0.30 a gallon), but there's very little investment in anything that's going to help them once the oil runs out, like education or scientific research (no, building a bomb-factory nuclear reactor that would have been obsolete in 1975 doesn't count) or communications infrastructure.

        The government's plan seems to be "hold on to as much as we can, for as long as we can, by any means necessary."
    • Yes, cripple your country! Better to maintain strict control over a nation in poverty than be in charge of a prosperous one!

      1. They are simply attempting to control their citizenry. It's done everywhere in the world. I would argue their solution is more obvious than the more complicated, but no less influential methods used in Western countries like the U.S.

      2. Declaring this is the fast path to poverty is a little too careless. It doesn't mean they can't use computers/networks to run the country more ef
    • Maybe instead of banning tag [slashdot.org], they should've just forced the kids to play it more slowly?
  • I'm sure parts of Africa would like to have extra bandwidth, too bad Iran can't just give the wasted bandwidth to them. They are foolish to squander such a resource, when other parts of the world are desperate for the infrastructure.

    Of course the bandwidth cap will make it difficult to download gigs of porn. Maybe the "influence" they are concerned about is the western porn, Iranians should only look at pornography of Iranian women and not western women.
  • Priorities (Score:4, Funny)

    by evil agent (918566) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:41PM (#16488667)
    They should probably be more worried about their roads [bbc.co.uk] than their pipes.
    • by demigod (20497)

      They should probably be more worried about their roads than their pipes.

      Don't you know, the Internet is not a truck it's a series of tubes.

      Trucks use roads, and tubes do not require either roads or pipes.

  • Technical solutions? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by infolib (618234) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:44PM (#16488741)
    I'm sure it's possible to combine several 128K lines to get one single hi-speed line.

    Suppose you and 5 or 6 of your neighbours had 128K each. How would you go about it?
  • Bad Ping (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wiarumas (919682) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:45PM (#16488767)
    Note to self: Avoid Iran Counterstrike servers due to bad pings.
  • Really scared (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rumagent (86695) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:46PM (#16488775)
    Iran is run by a bunch of wackos... I can live with that. But what really scares me is what happens when the RIAA hears of this - they will go for this shit in an instant.

  • by Doug Dante (22218) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @01:46PM (#16488781)
    They will son become world experts in data compression, home construction of undetectable spread spectrum links, ad hoc very long range wireless data connections, and anonymous groupware! Thanks Iran!
  • My bet is that bittorrent becomes increasingly popular in Iran to help distribute the kind of content that this crackdown is meant to discourage. True, it wouldn't necessarially help individual end-users but it'd help with overall distribution.
  • The only thing they curb is the influence of the vast population of Iranian youngsters.
    Give it another 10 years and that whole country will be torn apart from internal forces.
    • Haven't people been saying this more or less since the end of the Iran hostage crisis back in the early 80's?
    • won't happen.
      Bush will meddle in their affairs and piss off the whole country.
      Iran, Thanks to bush, will suddenly have common cause to unite under.
      And it starts all over again.

      You should rent Syriana (http://imdb.com/title/tt0365737/)
      Then you'll understand.
  • by Klync (152475)
    Somebody'd better go and liberate them, quick!
  • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:01PM (#16489109)
    ... not only are they trying to develop nuclear weapons and "wipe Israel off the map," but they're capping bandwidth at 128kbps!
    • they're capping bandwidth at 128kbps!

      This seems to me to be plenty of bandwidth for messages like "totalitarian dictatorships suck!". That's only 32 characters. You could send this out 500 times per second at 128kbps.

      • by Sir Homer (549339)
        Yes but not enough to download V for Vendetta in any reasonable time. I think they are trying to curb American culture because it may corrupt their religious ideals.
    • by beta21 (88000)
      ... not only are they trying to develop nuclear weapons and "wipe Israel off the map," but they're capping bandwidth at 128kbps!

      I didn't know comcast was in charge of Iran
  • Everyone knows that Western Influences require at least 1Mbps.

    A foolproof plan.
  • by joe_cot (1011355) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:07PM (#16489221) Homepage
    Short answer: Instead of quickly downloading western culture, the average Iranian will now be mildly inconvenienced by a cap on bandwidth speeds.

    Long answer: What makes this restriction really useful to the Iranian government is that it will help curb attempts to get around their filtering. Countries which censor (such as China) have had flourishing peer-to-peer anonymous darknets spring up as a result of technologies such as Tor [eff.org] and Freenet [wikipedia.org] (link to wp article, as the site appears to be down currently). By capping the bandwidth at 128kbps, it's much more difficult to have faster supernodes on such networks, and fewer Iranians will be willing to dedicate bandwidth to running a p2p web server. Between a combination of web censorship, and an added (though not insurmountable) barrier to darknets, this will help Iran rather effectively cut off its citizens from what the government doesn't want them to see.

    The other main consequence is to servers; besides the comical bad ping for Iran counter-strike server which a commenter mentioned earlier, this will affect anyone trying to spread subversive material over their connection; on the other hand, this will cripple anyone trying to serve anything over their connection. I wouldn't be surprised if Iran soon gives exemptions to various research and commercial groups to help stem the latter conquences.
  • A small army of soldiers marches up.

    COMMANDER: Ve are the Judean People's Front, crack suicide squad. Suicide squad... attack!!!

    The soldiers all draw their swords, stab themselves, and fall over.

    COMMANDER: That showed 'em, huh? ......*

    --Life of Brian
  • by loimprevisto (910035) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @02:21PM (#16489523)
    From TFA:
    Parastoo Dokoohaki, a prominent Iranian blogger, said the move was designed to foil the government's opponents. "If you want to announce a gathering in advance, you won't see it mentioned on official websites and newspapers would announce it too late. Therefore, you upload it anonymously and put the information out. Banning high-speed links would limit that facility. Despite having the telecoms facilities, fibre-optic technology and internet infrastructure, the authorities want us to be undeveloped."
    How exactly will capping connection speeds at 128k per second stop someone from uploading 1k worth of text to 'put the information out' about a gathering? It's not like you need flashy banners and embedded movies... if someone wants to attend your protest rally (and you're serious about organizing one), waiting a few seconds instead of half of a second isn't really going to get in the way.
  • In related news, Ford Motor Corp. announced today that they are capping the top speed of their popular F-150 series pick-up truck to 30 mph (50 km/h) in order to prevent reduce the likelihood of people using their truck to drive to work.
    Huh!? Someone mail them a book on logic.
  • Great news. Everytime some bunch of retards wants to stop knowledge it can only work out well for everyone else. I hope they ban literacy soon too. Let them all fucking starve.
  • I can't think of any society lasting very long once it starts to adopt the ideology of being "open minded". Can anyone come up with an example where having a diverse and rapidly changing set of ideas and values within a society made them stronger? Once a society reaches this stage it tends to get taken over by another society capable of focusing it's energy towards a common objective.
  • I'm iranian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @03:29PM (#16490675)
    Hi all.

    First every US based company (virtually %90 of software companies) reject to work with us. Few weeks ago I just lost a $4000 consulting contract just because I'm Iranian (I'm a java programmer and $4000 is a big money here). Commonly I pretend I'm Turkish or other country just to use very basic things in internet like paypal or activating a web hosting. we say half of the web sites are blocked by USA (iee, sun download section, ...), half by mullahs. Now this problem. I don't know what the hell will happen next time.
    Regarding music and movie it's not a big problem as most of contents are either from satellite or cd or dvd. Sometimes I think western music groups will be surprised when they know how many fans they have in Islamic Iran and specially in Tehran (my favorites are dire straits and Shania twain among others). Here most of the people have dishes and I think it's between 70%-80%.
    Maybe you think we are happy with creating nuclear bomb and this government But I can say must of us are sick of these things. We just want to live a little better like any body else and have some kind of freedom, unlike what this government pretend, we have no kind of problem with outer world.
    In Iran young people call the "ali khameneii" (supreme leader) as "ali Galile" because like galile he look at stars (for creating Islamic rules).
    The biggest use of internet in Iran is for chatting with yahoo. Girls looking for boys and boys looking for girls (talking in public can result in prison or forced marriage if government arrests). So this will not affect the biggest use of internet in Iran. If you take a look at asia rooms in yahoo messenger and if you know farsi you will see almost every body is Iranian. Other things like orkut are already blocked. You may wonder but this fool (president) already forced coffeenets (small shops which let you connect to internet in the shop) in specified days don't let boys use internet and the same for girls meaning avoid both boys and girls be at the coffeenet at the same time. Some people wish USA drop a bomb and kill this government and if we die, it's not a big problem.
    It's funny but this kind of governments fear from virtually every thing. Like high speed internet, dishes, and even yahoo messenger.
    Also we are not Arab we are persian, some people hate arabs for what they have done to our country (including me).
    Some times I think life is a little tough with us but maybe it's our predecessors fault.
  • Don't they realize at that low a speed they'll fall DECADES behind the rest of the world in pr0n downloading!
  • Nukes (Score:3, Funny)

    by SQLz (564901) on Wednesday October 18, 2006 @05:18PM (#16492405) Homepage Journal
    Luckily, the PDF "How to Make a Nuke Out of Normal Household Items" is only 96k.

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