Information Warfare: China Helps Iran Shut Down The Web


December 24, 2012: The Iranian government is well on its way to cutting most Iranians off from the Internet, by building an internal Internet just for those in Iran who cannot be trusted with the World Wide Web. That means most Iranians are finding it more and more difficult to reach the international Internet. Recently Iran introduced a heavily censored local version of YouTube, as YouTube itself is banned in Iran. China is helping Iran, as well as a lot of other countries, to censor use of the Internet.

China is leading a worldwide tendency for police state governments to tightly control how their subjects use the Internet. While China is considered the most vigorous and effective censor of the Internet, many other nations are using the same techniques and equipment, often obtained from China. These include Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. None of these nations are democracies. All are police states or monarchies determined to keep their subjects from having free use of the Internet. In most cases, the real purpose is to prevent the people from overthrowing the rulers. But there are many other nations, most of them democracies, who are also striving to control the Internet to protect their citizens from unsavory material. These nations include Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Eritrea, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Most other nations are watching these efforts, as there are many people on the planet who see the Internet as more of a threat than an opportunity.

China leads the way in all this. But it isn't all about politics. Iran, for example, wants to block its citizens from seeing pornography, anything critical of Islam, and most Western entertainment. China has made a major effort to "protect" adult Internet users from pornography and children on the Internet from, well, everything. The government does this via its Great Firewall of China (officially the "Golden Shield") system, that filters and eavesdrops on Internet traffic coming into and leaving China.  In fact, Golden Shield is more about controlling what is said by Internet users inside China than in controlling what they have access to outside China.

The growing number of governments seeking to control Internet content is all concerned about how they have lost control of information flow because of the Internet. This is a matter of life and death for a dictatorship but can be very annoying for leaders (honest or otherwise) in a democracy. No leader elected or otherwise likes to have contrary opinions popping up. Something must be done.

Iran, like North Korea, is trying to create its own Internet and prevent most Iranians from having any access with the international Internet. This is only possible if your economy is not highly dependent on worldwide Internet access. That is the case in North Korea but Iran has an economy that deals a lot with foreign suppliers and customers. That is changing because of the growing list of international economic sanctions placed on Iran because of their nuclear weapons program and support for terrorism. Iran also wants more control over Internet use inside Iran because it fears that foreign spies, saboteurs, and assassins are using it to collect information about targets and carry out operations. 


Article Archive

Information Warfare: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close