A controversial law which many believe will lead the country to block, censor, and shut down the internet was passed today in Iran’s parliament. The law, named “Preserving the Rights of Users in Cyberspace” was passed as 121 of 204 voted yes, while 74 voted no.
It is believed, and by experience seems to be true, that the point and goal of this law is to limit internet messengers and social networks, specially WhatsApp and Instagram, as they’re most-used social and communication tools, and then ultimately shut down internet, limiting it to sites and networks located inside the country. This way the government can have full control over what people say, hear, do, or share.
While I condemn the use of any proprietary app, I can’t agree to any kind of censorship. Whether it’s proprietary or free (libre), it doesn’t matter for me today because what people use should be up to them and nobody, absolutely nobody, shouldn’t be able to force people use anything they don’t like, for any purpose.
According to this law, social networks and messengers like Instagram will be blocked inside the country if they don’t assign a representative and according to article 17 of the law, their bandwidth/speed can be reduced too much that using them would be impossible practically.
Instagram is one of the most popular social networks in Iran and Iranian citizens do economic activities such as sales of goods and supply services. Iran’s officials, including Ali Khamenei, also use this social network. Mr. Khamenei recently said that the country’s cyberspace is abandoned and officials should do something about it.
Blocking social networks and messengers has a history in the country. Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, Signal, and many Mastodon instances are blocked and people are forced to use internet censorship circumvention tools.
People are against this law. I can say the majority of people are concerned about the results of this and are concerned about their businesses, social life, communications, and privacy. While I don’t use any of those proprietary apps and services, internet being limited affects me too. Even if it wasn’t affecting me, I would still oppose it because it’s against people’s rights and freedoms.