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Iran Slows Internet Access Before Student Protests 289

Posted by timothy
from the oh-y'know-the-usual dept.
RiffRafff writes "Iran is at it again, pre-emptively slowing or cutting Internet access before anticipated student protests." From the article: "Seeking to deny the protesters a chance to reassert their voice, authorities slowed Internet connections to a crawl in the capital, Tehran. For some periods on Sunday, Web access was completely shut down — a tactic that was also used before last month's demonstration. The government has not publicly acknowledged it is behind the outages, but Iran's Internet service providers say the problem is not on their end and is not a technical glitch."
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Iran Slows Internet Access Before Student Protests

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  • by bucketoftruth (583696) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:57PM (#30347288)

    Clearly if I'm getting a frist psot on /. then they've gotten to us to!

  • Proxification? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skuzzlebutt (177224) <jdb.jeremydbrooks@com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:58PM (#30347292) Homepage

    Anyone hosting tor ports to assist? I considered, but I'm nervous about having some /b/onehead abuse my address.

    • As long as its your own dynamic IP I wouldn't be too worried about it. By running a tor node you are helping your own cause as well - the disassociation between user and IP. If anyone ever gives you any hassle just say "I'm running a tor node, the abuse has nothing to do with me, please fuck off". I believe the people behind tor have a selection sample letters of this sort on their site (but somewhat more polite)
      • I bed to differ. If you're running a Tor node, you're responsible for the traffic leaving it. I honestly don't care what you think the law has to say about it, but in the U.S. it's very clear. The letter you're referencing is worthless.
        • Re:Proxification? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:27PM (#30347536) Homepage
          Has anyone ever got into trouble for running a tor node? Also, not everyone lives in the US, with the level of 'freedom' over there it seems like you guys should be the ones using the tor nodes, not running them
          • by Loomismeister (1589505) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:37PM (#30347620)
            Um... living in the US is fantastic and we enjoy more freedom than most of the world.
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Yep - we're free to face jail time for taking a 4 minute video with a copyrighted movie in the background, for instance. Taste that freedom!

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                Free to go to jail for unwillingly/unknowingly receiving a picture of a child.
                Free to go to jail for someone else pirating something and clumsy morons tracing it back to us.
                Free to go to jail for exercising the right of free use.
                Free to be exploited first by corporate monopolies, then the government, then both at the same time.

                That said, we're also:

                Free to deny the holocaust or make "hateful" racist statements
                Free to insult Turkishness
                Free to insult the Thai monarch
                Free to call for the overthrow of the gove

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by palegray.net (1195047)
            I should add some more supporting details. Organizations can, in fact, be held legally liable for abuse of Tor nodes operating on their networks. There's a bit of a catch to this, though. If you're operating in relay mode, there's virtually no way to determine the contents of the traffic. If you're operating as an exit node, that's not the case. People are responsible for the bits exiting their network interface to the public at large.

            I routinely handle DMCA complaints related to Tor node abuse. My stand
      • I'm not sure how often my ISP cycles it. That's the thing to check, I guess. Sometimes when I run tor/provoxy, I get blocked by a few sites because the end node has been "spoiled" and the IP blocked.

    • Re:Proxification? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:35PM (#30347604) Homepage
      And how do you think this is going to help in the slightest? If all Internet traffic in and out of Iran is being slowed down, running through a proxy outside of Iran won't help because traffic to and from it will be affected just as much as everything else.
      • by lannocc (568669)

        If all Internet traffic in and out of Iran is being slowed down, running through a proxy outside of Iran won't help because traffic to and from it will be affected just as much as everything else.

        Not necessarily. That is, if the proxy did something like convert rich media to simple ASCII art it would provide a bandwidth savings and perhaps be useful.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      I'm kind of curious how many more situations like this will occur before people develop point to point 3G networks using old, root'd G1s and directional dishes. With the ability to just turn off the internet at will, eventually someone will develop a tethered G1 that can talk to other tethered G1s in a point to point situation. I think packet HAM radio does this to an extent already, but you should be able to push 10mb/s easy across p2p 3G packet radio, which then interfaces with a building's internal netwo

  • Slow? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jspenguin1 (883588) <jspenguin@gmail.com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:59PM (#30347298) Homepage
    How much will this really affect communication? If I recall, the last wave of protests mostly used Twitter, which doesn't exactly use a whole heap of bandwith? I could see this affecting Youtube, but it won't stop communication.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's enough to stop people from arranging protests and letting each other know where and what time to show up. Using phones for that purpose is not really safe because they are quite easy to tap. The speeds are low enough that even messenger services (Yahoo, MSN and GTalk) are not working as it takes forever to connect.
      They have also ordered foreign journalists to stop reporting and stay home for a few days, to prevent the beating of protesters showing up live for the world to see.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:01PM (#30347318) Homepage Journal
    I hope the protest succeeds for many reasons, one of which is to show that regime change can be beneficial and effective without overt American influence. The Iranians are tough people with long memories, and they will be as resistant to American meddling as they are to the Ayatollah.

    They're one of the few countries without McDonald's' and I'd like to see them stay that way.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      Your sentimentalism sickens me.
      How can your anti-globalization sentiment outweigh the fact that Iran is a highly oppressive, human rights abusing theocracy?

      You wouldn't be able to set foot there to enjoy the McDonalds free streets, before being tortured, and used as a political bargaining chip.

      • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:26PM (#30348056) Homepage Journal

        Your sentimentalism sickens me.

        Yeah, emotions. Why can't we all be robots?!!!!!!!!

        How can your anti-globalization sentiment outweigh the fact that Iran is a highly oppressive, human rights abusing theocracy?

        Read the post again. I want what the people want. They don't want a 14-th century theocracy and they don't want a bunch of greedy American meddlers entrenching themselves into the political infrastructure, exploiting the people, and cheapening a proud culture.

        As the song goes, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss". The Iranians are trying to prevent that vicious cycle, unlike the apathetic Americans who encourage it.

    • by Tezcat (927703) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:15PM (#30347436)
      If the regime controls the media well enough, any problems or threats can be described as American-sponsered.

      And if any change does occur, it'd not stop sympathetic conspiracists from blaming the downfall of an Islamic state on whoever they damn well wish: The US, the UK, or a sinister cabal of Zionists.

      Of course, this is discounting the major problem the anti-government Iranian students are facing; that those they oppose were revolutionary students once, ruthless ones at that, and know a few of the tricks.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by easyTree (1042254)

        If the regime controls the media well enough, any problems or threats can be described as ...

        Most don't seem to comprehend that this is exactly what happens in the US.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by palegray.net (1195047)
          I won't argue that the media here in the U.S. isn't heavily influenced by the government. That said, I'm still free to publish views that directly conflict with those in government without fear of being locked up. That is not the case in Iran. Now, I frankly don't think it's any of our business that their citizens have to live like that; if they decide they want change, they'll do what it takes to effect it. Until then, they get what they deserve.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by easyTree (1042254)

            That said, I'm still free to publish views that directly conflict with those in government without fear of being locked up. That is not the case in Iran.

            You make this sound like a good thing.

            There's no need to prevent someone from saying or printing anything they think - most of their thoughts are already under control - if not, their readership interprets any unrecognised opinion within the framework set by big media.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by easyTree (1042254)

            I frankly don't think it's any of our business that their citizens have to live like that

            Whilst it's of course only human (the good side :) to care about fellow humans living in oppression in foreign lands, does it not seem strange that your government (and mine) will happily provide weapons used to kill these same individuals but as soon as there a more pressing need than immediate profit, their former business colleagues from abroad are denounced for anti-American behaviour?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      I hope the protest succeeds for many reasons, one of which is to show that regime change can be beneficial and effective without overt American influence.

      Overt, covert, what's the difference?
      Considering America's past, without proof to the contrary, I'm going to assume that we are and have been messing around with Iran's internal politics.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:01PM (#30347324) Homepage
    How long do the authorities in Iran think they can keep this Internet slowdown going? Sooner or later, they'll have to let up, and when they do, there's going to be a flood of blog posts and website updates about the latest protests. Unless they cut off all Internet access forever, they can't stop it from happening, they can only delay it, and the longer they do, the worse it looks.
    • by bram (490) <bram-slashdot@g[ ]l.net ['rmb' in gap]> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:27PM (#30347538) Journal

      The problem is that it doesn't matter how it looks.

      • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:00PM (#30347848)
        Yeah, if they're willing to gun down citizens in the street for protesting a bogus election, then I don't see how anyone could think they'd care at all about how they look for restricting bandwidth on the internet.
        • by bendodge (998616)

          They don't much care how they look, but I'm sure no/slow Internet is hurting their economy. That involves money, which is much more serious than PR.

    • by hemp (36945)

      They will continue as long as Nokia, Vodafone, and Siemans continue work with the Iranian government.

    • I think it is more about taking away the tactical organization of the protesters. I wonder if you could build a true P2P communication app to run on phones. Servers inside Iran would be vulnerable to police action and servers outside Iran can obviously be filtered. Something like each node (phone, laptop, etc) keeps a list of the IP addresses of other phones in the mesh. New members can join by manually typing in the IP address of a friends phone. IP addresses in the mesh are distrbuted through the network.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alfoolio (1385603)

      I disagree: The longer they can delay it the less fresh it becomes, the less people care about what actually happened, and the more easily can history be changed. They look their worst when they initially do it.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:02PM (#30347330) Homepage
    Well, that really doesn't leave much. I give the Iranian government credit though, this is a much more subtle way of handling things and potentially more effective than more blatant crackdowns. However, I don't think this will matter much for certain types of channels. A lot of the channels used in previous protests to communicate (such as Twitter and text messages) have extremely low bandwiths. So slowing down the internet shouldn't do much. And large scale cutting will lose the more subtle element. Of course, this sort of repeated behavior should make it clear to anyone in doubt that the current Iranian government really isn't popular with the people. If they were genuinely popular, they'd have little need to try to control communication like this. The government probably remembers that the last time there was an extremely unpopular government was the Shah's regime and that was brought down by what started as student protests.
    • Streamed video is another cornerstone of fast distribution of information, though. Twitter, text messages and Facebook were essential, but it were the Youtube videos that really let the world watch the protests.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:04PM (#30347342) Homepage

    How long before the Iranian government lays all new fiber to a central military facility and then disable the now-current fiber links? The idea being total central control to turn off the internet connection entirely or by segments from one physical location.

    Hey, if they have the money to build another 20 nuclear reprocessing sites, they damn well have the funds to pull something off like this!

  • by 7213 (122294) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:12PM (#30347398) Homepage

    Bah,

    Last death throws of a failing regime. I feel horrible for the Iranian people right now, but thank god they don't seem to be taking this lying down.

    It's like the 1960's over there, a huge boom of 'youth' and a repressive establishment to fight. Here's hoping the result of this revolution is a bit more friendly then the last, but more importantly that it treats it's people better.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:20PM (#30348012) Journal

      Sorry to disappoint you, but the "revolutionaries" are mostly urban youth (a lot of students there, obviously, which is why you often see those). However, that's not what the majority of Iran's population is - that comes from the countryside, rural agrarian folk, and they're rather happy about mullahs and Ahmadinejad. So at worst this won't be a revolution, this will be a civil war, and if the "more democracy" side wins, it will do so against the will of the majority (can you count the bodies it takes, already?).

      I very much wish for a democratic Iran, but at this point it looks as unlikely as ever.

      • but don't take my word for it: allow an actual iranian to complain about ill-informed american armchair analysts who spout stupidity based on crap assumptions like yourself:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/opinion/19shane.html [nytimes.com]

        ...

        For instance, some American analysts assert that the demonstrations are taking place only in the sections of Tehran -- in the north, around the university and Azadi Square -- where the educated and well-off reside. Of course, those neighborhoods were home to the well-to-do ... 30 years ago. The notion that these areas represent "the nice part of town" will come as a surprise to their residents, who endure the noise, congestion and pollution of living in the center of a megalopolis.

        People who haven't visited a city in decades are bound to give out bad directions. But their descriptions of where the protests are taking place, and why, also draw on pernicious myths of an iron correlation between religion and class, between location and voting tendency, in Iran.

        This false geography imagines South Tehran and the countryside as home only to the poor, those natural allies of political Islam, while North Tehran embodies unbridled gharbzadegi (translated as "Weststruckness" or "Westernitis") and is populated by people addicted to the Internet and vacations in Paris. It is as if political Islam withers north of Vanak Square and the only residents to be found are "liberals" who voted for the opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi.

        We must not assume that the engagement of members of society with their religion is uniform or that religious devotion equals automatic loyalty to a particular brand of politics. To do so is certainly to deny Iran's poor the capacity to think for themselves, to deny that the politics of the past four years may have made their lives worse -- and plays right into Mr. Ahmadinejad's dubious claim to be the most authentic representative of the 1979 revolution. Mr. Moussavi was, let's not forget, a favored son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and a member of Iran's original cohort of revolutionaries, and he remains a firm believer in the revolution and the framework of the Islamic Republic.

        But the United States seems able to view our country only through anxieties left over from the 1979 revolution. In the "how did we lose Iran?" assessments after the overthrow of the shah, many American intelligence agents and policy makers decided that their great mistake was to spend too much time canoodling with the royal family and intellectual elites of the capital. Commentators now are worried that, by siding with the opposition today, the United States will once again fall into the trap of backing the losing side.

        But the fact is, Tehran is not the Iranian anomaly it was 30 years ago. It has become more like the rest of the country. Internal migration, not just to Tehran but to other major cities, has accelerated, driven in part by the growth of universities in places like Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashad and Shiraz, and now nearly 70 percent of Iranians live in cities. The much vaunted rural vote represents not a decisive bloc for Mr. Ahmadinejad but a minimum, one that was easily swamped by the increased turnout of city dwellers, who normally sit elections out.

        And, of course, Iran in 2009 -- better yet, Iran on June 12, 2009 -- is not the same as Iran in 1979. Just as Tehran's neighborhoods cannot be fixed in time, the cultural lives of Iranians have greatly changed in the past 30 years. The postrevolutionary period has seen the expansion of education, the entry of women into the work force in large numbers, and changing patterns of marriage and even of divorce. These have all shaped Iranian society. The pseudo-sociology peddled by so many in the West would easily dissolve with a week's visit. ...

    • by Kagura (843695)

      Bah,

      Last death throws of a failing regime. I feel horrible for the Iranian people right now, but thank god they don't seem to be taking this lying down.

      It's like the 1960's over there, a huge boom of 'youth' and a repressive establishment to fight. Here's hoping the result of this revolution is a bit more friendly then the last, but more importantly that it treats it's people better.

      Bleh. South Korea tried protests in the 1980 for democratization, and the military ended up killing several hundred demonstrators while troops were brutally restablishing control over Kwangju. South Korea has only had democracy since the 1987--and that's only if you believe Noh Tae-Woo, the previous dictator's buddy, was elected in a fair election. Otherwise, ROK has only had democracy since the mid-90s... and that covers the entire period from the end of World War II to present. :(

  • If they were all using IRC/Jabber and regular POP3/SMTP email (with encryption/one-time pads) or something more decentralised and robust altogether the effects of 'slowing down the internet' would hardly be felt, since these protocols use so little bandwidth anyway. In this case anyway relying on 'De Cloud' ie. a couple of supermassive foreign social networking sites does not seem like the best course of action
  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:30PM (#30347564)
    I would have been first but I'm posting from Iran.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:37PM (#30347626)

    If so, that would explain everything.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:43PM (#30347672)

    The same thing happens when China "cracks down." The media whines and opines for a while, but at the end of the day the rest of the world is powerless to stop these boneheads from abusing their own people. I feel for those affected, but at some point the people inside the Matrix need to do more to help themselves. Having the people outside complain really doesn't do a whole lot to make it better.

    So if I'm a thug government, I know I can pretty much do what I want, especially if I have something the world wants (cheap labor/oil/etc).

    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:14PM (#30347980)

      "I feel for those affected, but at some point the people inside the Matrix need to do more to help themselves."

      They are too comfortable for violent revolt, or they would violently revolt.
      They aren't fighting Islam, which is the root source of all their problems, they are merely wanting their piece of the Iranian pie.

      I'll be impressed when they have the balls to fight like the Jihadists they face, and wear IEDs into Republican Guard facilities.

    • he was an exile, an expatriot. he gathered financial support and philosophical encouragement from ideas outside china. he spent a lot of time in hawaii, finding inspiration in things like lincoln's gettysburg address. then he went home to china, and helped overthrow the backwards qing dynasty. he is revered by both the mainland communists and the nationalists on taiwan as the father of modern china

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen [wikipedia.org]

      my point?

      national borders are artificial constructs, and the seeds of revolution often come from outside a country, not from within it. ideology is ideology ideology: if it works in one country, it can work in another. its not like you go over the border of china or iran and suddenly you are in a magical land where human nature is fundamentally different. no: human beings are human beings. an idea that inspires someone in rio de janiero can just as easily inspire someone in hamburg. you give far too much power to something as flimsy as a tribal, arbitrary dividing line

      my point is: there is very much we can do to help an angry and energized rich iranian expat community to give birth to the iranian sun yat-sen

      its not just people outside the country whining and complaining. that's not all they are doing, you can be sure of that. and the iranian government knows this: they jail relatives of iranian expats they perceive as being active in fighting the illegitimate iranian military dictatorship (the ayatollah is only a pawn now):

      http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/12/05/2044243 [slashdot.org]

      the iranian government certainly recognizes what you do not: its not the cia, or mi-6 that is there most potent foreign enemy. it is the iranian diaspora: raising funds, keeping alive hope, influencing opinion at home

      the iranian regime has heard of sun yat-sen, and they are on guard against the iranian one

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:27PM (#30348072)

    They're doing it wrong.

    they should encourage p2p software use, increase the bandwidth, then everyone will stay home watching lost or house.

  • Especially those who are expert in Parkour? So that the net is not needed.

  • lets see.
    1. Spies on their citizens.
    2. Has emprisoned and beaten their own citizens
    3. Always tries to control what is said.
    4. Horrible murder in the name of some higher reasoning.

    Oh, I have such a difficult time telling the difference between those two.

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