We've had a few readers send in updates on the chaotic post-election situation in Iran. Twitter is providing better coverage than CNN at the moment. There are both tech and humanitarian angles to the story, as the two samples below illustrate. First, Hugh Pickens writes with a report from The Times (UK) that "the Iranian government is mounting a campaign to disrupt independent media organizations and Web sites that air doubts about the validity of the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the nation's president. Reports from Tehran say that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were taken down after Mr Ahmadinejad claimed victory. SMS text messaging, a preferred medium of communication for young Iranians, has also been disabled. 'The blocking of access to foreign news media has been stepped up, according to Reporters Without Borders. 'The Internet is now very slow, like the mobile phone network. YouTube and Facebook are hard to access and pro-reform sites... are completely inaccessible.'" And reader momen abdullah sends in one of the more disturbing Ask Slashdots you are likely to see. "People, we need your urgent help in Iran. We are under attack by the government. They stole the election. And now are arresting everybody. They also filtered every sensitive Web page. But our problem is that they also block the SMS network and are scrambling satellite TVs. Please, can you help us to set up some sort of network using our home wireless access points? Can anybody show us a link on how to install small TV/radio stations? Any suggestion for setting up a network? Please tell us what to do or we are going to die in the a nuclear war between Iran and US." Update: 06/14 18:32 GMT by KD : Jim Cowie contributes a blog post from Renesys taking a closer look at the state of Iranian Internet transit, as seen in the aggregated global routing tables, and concluding that the story may not be as clear-cut as has been reported.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that since last year more than 400,000 Iranians began surfing the uncensored Web using software created for the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that has been suppressed by the Chinese government since 1999. More than 20 countries now use increasingly sophisticated blocking and filtering systems for Internet content, according to Reporters Without Borders, including Iran, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The creators of the software seized upon by Iranians are members of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium, based largely in the United States and closely affiliated with Falun Gong. Interestingly enough, the United States government and the Voice of America have financed some of the circumvention technology efforts, and a coalition is organizing to push for more Congressional financing of anti-filtering efforts, bringing together dissidents of Vietnam, Iran, the Uighur minority of China, Tibet, Myanmar, Cuba, Cambodia, Laos, as well as the Falun Gong, to lobby Congress for the financing. 'What is our leverage toward a country like Iran? Very little,' said Michael Horowitz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute. 'Suppose we have the capacity to make it possible for the president of the United States at will to communicate with hundreds of thousands of Iranians at no risk or limited risk? It just changes the world.'"
I can envision Google moving its offices and other operations to another country or location that is more tolerant of their activities. For instance they could move to Myanmar, buy off the ruling junta and solve that problem by asking the generals to retire and setting their own people at the top of the political foodchain. We could have Sergey as President, Captain Crunch as VP, Kevin Mitnick as Secretary of State and Gates as Secretary of the Treasury.