Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Government The Internet News

Iran May Shut Down Internet During Election 234

Posted by Zonk
from the can't-stop-the-signal-mal dept.
daveschroeder writes "'The Iranian government might block private access to the Internet for the general legislative election on March 14, two Iranian news outlets reported Monday. In 2006, the authorities banned download speeds on private computers faster than 128 kilobytes per second. The government also uses sophisticated filtering equipment to block hundreds of Web sites and blogs that it considers religiously or politically inappropriate. Many bloggers have been jailed in the past years, and dozens of Web sites have been shut down.' It would appear that Iran's own government is more a threat to the nation's internet connectivity than the fragility of the undersea cable network."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Iran May Shut Down Internet During Election

Comments Filter:
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:45AM (#22636066)
    This was trimmed from the original submission:

    Slashdot readers may recall the assertions [slashdot.org], roundly dismissed [iht.com] by undersea cable experts, that the cables were deliberately cut to sever Iran's internet connectivity, which, contrary to popular belief, never occurred [slashdot.org].

    Many fervently believed the cable "cuts" were a prelude to war; still others insisted they were part of a plot to prevent the opening of the Iranian Oil Bourse [wikipedia.org]. Interestingly, no one could explain how cutting only one of several mechanisms of Internet connectivity to Iran would stop the bourse from opening...

    Well, there was no secret invasion of Iran, and the Iranian Oil Bourse, after many self-incurred delays, still opened [www2.irna.ir], to little fanfare. The opening of the bourse -- which doesn't deal in US dollars -- was supposed to be the turning point that sent the dollar into a freefall; however, myriad other factors seem to be hurting the dollar just fine on their own.

    Why am I mentioning this? Because I think it is incredibly important to take a step back, get some perspective on things, and realize that actual totalitarian regimes are far more dangerous and damaging to individual freedoms and the free flow of information, in a very real and tangible sense, than even the wildest imagined conspiracy theories.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      As was mentioned by more than one person during that time, you missed another possibility: That the cables were cut/damaged in order to provide cover for a splice.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:07AM (#22636454)
        And the hundreds of non-US and non-Western individuals involved on the flotilla of vessels needed for undersea cable repair -- which are constantly roving the world repairing cables -- don't notice this, and/or have all kept it a secret?

        We have other means [wikipedia.org] of undersea cable traffic interception and surveillance. And even if the cuts were cover for the insertion of a tap at another location by a vessel like the Carter, there isn't any way to prove that one way or another.

        I think the most interesting thing is that people seem to be looking for explanations that somehow involve nefarious US activity -- anything other than a string of coincidental cable failures in one geographic region. That aspect is especially interesting: given the sophistication that would be needed to carry out such an operation undetected from a technical standpoint, we somehow don't have the foresight to make it unnoticeable in other ways?

        The "nefarious activity" in relation to Iran's internet connectivity is right under our nose, and it's the draconian restrictions the government imposes on its own people, not that a splice might possibly have been installed somewhere as part of an operation that requires incredible technological sophistication and wherewithal, but can't manage to make cable cuts not appear too "obvious".

        The cable operators have numerous mechanisms to detect splices installed in their lines. So unless the cable operators themselves are in on it -- as some have alleged -- I don't think this hypothesis is plausible, either. And if the cable operators are in on it, then we wouldn't have needed to cut undersea cables and install splices, would we?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vertinox (846076)
          And the hundreds of non-US and non-Western individuals involved on the flotilla of vessels needed for undersea cable repair -- which are constantly roving the world repairing cables -- don't notice this, and/or have all kept it a secret?

          If they wanted a splice, they could have done it a hundred miles away and no one would have noticed before the breach was fixed at the other end. Especially, if they used a submarine team.

          Though, there are more efficient ways of doing things so I doubt it, but they could do
        • by kestasjk (933987) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:57AM (#22637132) Homepage
          The US cut the cables for no reason, only to send the world's conspiracy theorists on a wild goose chase while the real preparations for war are made.

          It's the only logical conclusion.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by VoidCrow (836595)
            Insightful? This is *funny*, unless the moderator is poking sarcastic fun at Slashdot readers. And, I just can't imagine *that*.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ardent99 (1087547)
          You seem particularly incensed that people are considering the idea that the US might be involved. Whether or not that is the case, there are other possible explanations that involve deliberate action and not coincidence. For example, it might be Iran itself. I could easily see Iran doing it in preparation for their elections. If, as the news indicates, Iran is planning to cut off internet access, then it is very possible that they experimented with cutting communications lines, or splicing in equipment
      • by geekoid (135745)
        Becasue it's too stupid to be worth mentioning.

        Ignoring the fact that about 50 cables a year are 'cut', there is th fact that there are cheaper, better, and less risky ways to do it?

        So a splice is put in, and then thousands of miles of cable is secretly laid to get the information land side, and NOBODY notice that it bow needs a lot more power pushed through it?

        A cable that has 10,000 volts running through it will have a noticeable jump in resistance when another cable is spliced on.
    • The cable cuts weren't meant to disrupt communications completely, they were to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt among potential non-dollar oil investors. Simple, logical explanation. Now, I ask you all, why might someone in the intelligence business want us to believe that the cable cuts were mere coincidence?
      • How on earth does Iran's internet connectivity being barely disrupted -- never mind that the cable operators and undersea cable experts completely dismissed claims there were any intentional cuts -- "spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt among potential non-dollar oil investors"?

        Was it supposed to be a signal that if anyone invests in Iran's bourse, the US is going to incompetently attempt to disrupt their internet connectivity, and utterly fail at doing so? Better yet, since no major entity interested in inv
        • by spun (1352)
          Please don't play dumb. You know as well as I do what this does. It sends a clear message to anyone thinking of using the Bourse. "We have tapped ALL lines, not just the ones that were 'incompetently' cut and obviously tapped" and "We WILL take any action necessary to ensure oil is traded in dollars only. Your name goes on the list if you trade at the Bourse." This was a clear and public message. Any oil trader can read it loud and clear, and you are being disingenuous when you profess ignorance. The Irania
          • Okay... [wired.com]

            "Cable cuts happen on average once every three days," Beckert said. There are 25 large ships [iscpc.org] that do nothing but fix cable cuts and bends, [Stephan] Beckert [of TeleGeography Research] adds. [...] "Only the first two cuts had any serious impact on the internet." [...] Once those failures sensitized a conspiracy-happy net, it was natural that other cable failures would be found to feed the frenzy, because they occur all the time. [...] "Its difficult to tell what the motive would be: is it just to ann
          • by randyest (589159)
            It sends a clear message to anyone thinking of using the Bourse. "We have tapped ALL lines, not just the ones that were 'incompetently' cut and obviously tapped" and "We WILL take any action necessary to ensure oil is traded in dollars only...This was a clear and public message. Any oil trader can read it loud and clear, and you are being disingenuous when you profess ignorance.

            Look, I'll be honest, I'm not claiming this is a known fact or anything.


            You sir, are a nut. What do you think about 911 tru
            • by spun (1352)

              It sends a clear message to anyone thinking of using the Bourse. "We have tapped ALL lines, not just the ones that were 'incompetently' cut and obviously tapped" and "We WILL take any action necessary to ensure oil is traded in dollars only...This was a clear and public message. Any oil trader can read it loud and clear, and you are being disingenuous when you profess ignorance.
              Look, I'll be honest, I'm not claiming this is a known fact or anything.

              You sir, are a nut. What do you think about 911 truthers?

              I wouldn't put anything past the current administration, but I don't think they planned this. I think it's likely they knew about it ahead of time and did nothing, but not certain.

              How am I a nut, exactly? We surely have the means and the opportunity, and I presented a plausible motive. I never claimed it was a certainty. Why are you against this sort of speculation?

    • by LilGuy (150110)
      The cable cuts effectively stopped banking activity in more than 4 middle eastern countries, due to the severe shortage of bandwidth available for the millions of transactions processed daily. If you don't think the cables were cut, why do you think Russia held "exercises" immediately afterwards in the Pacific near Alaska with jet fighters, submarines, and a carrier group, which just happened to cover their undersea cables? The timing was just too coincidental with the opening of the oil stock market.

      The
      • Except that any disruption was very temporary, and the Iranian bourse opened as planned.

        So what's the explanation, again...?

        And there has been an explanation [cnn.com] for the FALCON cable failure.

        Please provide references for your claims about Russian military exercises to "protect" undersea cables, and Egypt's "claims" that the cables were cut.

        I don't expect there will be a response, given that it is the cable operators, not the Egyptian government (since it is not their cable), who would be "examining the damage",
        • by LilGuy (150110)
          It's interesting to note your links to the "numerous experts" state right off the bat "Most telecommunications experts and cable operators say that sabotage seems unlikely, but no one knows what damaged the cables or whether the incidents were related." and also that it was suspicious, even though cables are cut on average once every 3 days.

          The thing that was suspicious was that the cables that were cut were nearly the sole providers of access to the region. It's almost incredible that there's nearly 0 r
          • I originally had this in my message, but removed it since I thought it was obvious:

            I'm not looking for stories that say that Egypt said there were no ships in the area in question. Even my linked article makes reference to that.

            I'm asking for a reference that supports your claim that the Egyptian government examined the cables and said they had clearly been deliberately cut. But there is no such reference, since the Egyptian government has done nothing of the sort, given that they're not the ones examining
            • by LilGuy (150110)
              How else do you define a 'cut' when there are no ships in the area?
              • Newsflash: any undersea cable damage that causes a partial or complete outage is called a "cut". Most undersea cable "cuts" are not caused by ships, and most don't represent a cable being completely severed. They're caused by water currents, age, underwater pressure, kinks, geologic movement, natural phenomena, power failures, equipment outages, and a whole host of other issues. That's why there is an undersea cable failure, or "cut" in industry parlance, once every three days [wired.com], on average, and why there are
  • Technology (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigdaddy25fb (1166129) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:45AM (#22636082) Homepage
    So many people in the technology world seem to be worried about censorship of user's rights online, and some must certainly work for the vendors who supplied Iran with the "sophisticated" filtering technology. My question is why are companies supplying countries with a known track record for human rights violations and crimes against people speaking out against the government?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KublaiKhan (522918)
      Because Iran has money, and these companies are not morally opposed to money.
  • This is typical and not too surprising. The nice thing for them is there's no chance of us going to war with either Hillary or Obama in office. They'd have to bomb the capital building... and even then...
    • -1: horseshit (Score:5, Informative)

      by thegnu (557446) <thegnu@gmailLION.com minus cat> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:24AM (#22636670) Journal

      This is typical and not too surprising. The nice thing for them is there's no chance of us going to war with either Hillary or Obama in office. They'd have to bomb the capital building... and even then...

      This is bullshit. Hillary has been prowar, except when campaigning. The Clinton administration had a couple war efforts. Obama's foreign policy guy is Brzezinski, who isn't specifically anti-war. Only when it's a terrible, terrible idea.

      Can we not mod up baseless political bullshit from either side? Thanks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chris Burke (6130)
        Obama's foreign policy guy is Brzezinski, who isn't specifically anti-war. Only when it's a terrible, terrible idea.

        Well that largely rules out war against Iran barring an overt act of hostility against us or an ally of ours. Which is more than enough for me.

        The scariest moments for me in the last 8 years were when it seemed like Bush was almost serious about trying to push for a preemptive war against Iran. Such a thing would have made Iraq look like Venice Beach. Fortunately even the morons who thought
  • The New Psych Ops (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeramybsmith (608791) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:48AM (#22636130)
    Run uncensored internet to the target country. It wouldn't surprise me if this actually happened.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kamran1919 (872201)
      This is the best suggestion I have heard. Put a high power data satellite up there in the Middle East. Flood the market with very inexpensive transceivers and low profile antennas. US will save billions later trying to change the regimes to something the local population does not want.
    • by fm6 (162816)
      And it wouldn't even be that hard. Just park a satellite over the target country. Many people in Iran already have illegal TV satellite dishes, easily upgrade for network access.
    • For all the porn.
  • It's a CONSIPRACY!
    Wait... is it still considered a conspiracy if it's out in the open and it's definitely 100% not the US or oil companies? I'm not sure which I prefer, prelude to war or the possibility that the Iranian leadership could become MORE crazy.

    Being a naive westerner, it appears to me that the freedom-hugging ideas that float around on the internets don't seem to have an effect on political/religious thinking of countries like Iran.

    Does this indicate that it is having an effect?
  • by Englabenny (625607) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {purdrevs.kirlu}> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:57AM (#22636296) Homepage
    I remember listening to the Persian/Canadian blogger who at Wikimania 2005 (Frankfurt) talked about blogging, activism and internet censorship. He mentioned that the Iranian government was pretty lax compared to China and many others, and speculated that it might continue like that. However, they are really picking up speed now sadly. Probably because the iranian blogosphere was so hopeful and full of momentum in 2005.
  • by oceaniv (1243854) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:58AM (#22636322)
    I certainly don't support this, however I am curious as to what the real rationale is and for HOW LONG the internet is gone. For example, here in Canada we have a media blackout on election results during the day the elections are running... obviously that's not a problem in Iran because the TV is estate controlled, but I can definitely see something like that being used to justify internet closure. I personally don't support any kind of blackout since it sets precedent, but you kind of have to keep in mind that without a constitution and censorship tendencies, legislation like this passes through without a blink.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vexorian (959249)
      In many countries there's preemptive lost of rights during elections to ensure order (for example large groups of people cannot be together, and you cannot drink before 2 days, or use a car, etc) So, given that I live in one of those countries, this idea to disable internet during the elections does not sound abnormal or repressive to me. It would be an annoyance if my country decides to copy the idea though, since that would make a boring day...
  • A few Thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cryophallion (1129715) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @10:59AM (#22636338)
    1. So it will only block private access. Does this mean you can still log on to the net from work?
    2. What is this meant to do? I see no real security benefits to blocking the internet.
    3. In speculating after what happened in Africa, is this an attempt to block outsiders from knowing what is going on in the country, or to keep outsiders from influencing the country, or to keep their own people unaware of what is going on in their own country? No matter which one, info will come out eventually, so the only thing I can see happening is that people can't tell others what is going on at the polling places before it is too late. But either way it would be too late, because there wouldn't be time for others to come and help out if there is forced voting.

    I guess I'm just confused as to how this is supposed to help them out, as it only makes them seem overly secretive, with little to no long term benefit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by reallocate (142797)
      It's an effort to control the information available to Iranians. The regime does not want news and reporting coming in from sources they do not control. That's fundamental for a totalitarian state.

      As for assuming " info will come out eventually", that's usually not the case. When the only information available comes from sources operated by the state or vetted by the state, there's little opportunity for information to simply "come out".
  • ...a fundamentalist regime that doesn't much like free thought, free association or free speech. I bet ol' George Bush can't make up his mind whether to bomb them or hug them. And would anybody like to take a bet on whether Yahoo served the bloggers up to Iran's secret police on a platter?
  • this story doesn't help us to understand why the usa is the center of all evil in the world. where is my giant list of us cold war atrocities? where is my creative line of reasoning as to explain how the usa is responsible for what its enemies do?</sarcasm>

    • I'll help: the actions of the United States could be said to have paved the way for the current regime to come to power.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ajax [wikipedia.org]
      • along with the actions of a number of other players, including, believe it or not, the iraqis themselves

        when we look to the usa as the blame for everything, you implicitly say the usa is the solution to the problems. yet of course the goal of blaming the usa for everything is to get the usa uninvolved... huh? it doesn't logically follow

        if you don't want the usa involved in other parts of the world, you don't blame the usa for things, you blame the iraqis for what happens in iraq, the brazilians for what hap
  • Curring underseas cable, changing the name-server like Pakistan just did and shutting off YouTube for hours, sometimes affects alot more than thie own country. The InterNet is robust from attack but not invulnerable.
  • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:29AM (#22636718)
    The infringement of civil liberties in Iran is being justified to counteract 'American interference', just like the wiretapping is getting justified by 'terrorist plotting'
  • What's the big deal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by WH44 (1108629) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @11:53AM (#22637056)
    They'll be cutting private internet access for one day, right?

    They make contradictory claims about why, but in the end, it is a one day inconvenience for internet users. The most sinister reason I can think of for them wanting to shut it down is to prevent riots caused by posts alleging election improprieties (real or imagined). Really sinister.

    Am I missing something? What's the big deal?

  • by strredwolf (532) on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @12:00PM (#22637174) Homepage Journal
    Just shut it completely down. Null-route everything in Iran. Nothing in, nothing out, make it a great big echo chamber. If they want to completely screw their population they shouldn't half-ass it. They need to full-ass it.
  • Let's hope they don't mean that literally, recalling recent events involving Pakistan.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

Working...