The Iranian tech sector has been the recipient of a great deal of hype in recent months, with events such as Bridge2014, Startup Weekend, and an array of Iranian conferences stoking a great deal of speculation in the domestic and international media about the potential for Silicon Valleys to spring up across the Islamic Republic.
This edition of the Iranian Internet Infrastructure and Policy Report is the first in a series that will explore the potential of the Iranian startup sector alongside its challenges. We’ll engage with the issues of economic viability, infrastructural requirements, and the challenge of sanctions. In addition, we’ll be following the stories of a number of startups that are trying to make it big in Iran today. This will all come alongside the... read more
Today, Small Media is one of 30 signatories to a letter calling on UN member states to vote 'Yes' on Resolution A/C.3/69/L.33, for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As last month's Universal Periodic Review process demonstrated, Iran still has a long, long way to go to improve its human rights track record. Iran continues to discriminate against its citizens on the basis of their faith, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, arbitrarily imprison journalists and activists, and execute hundreds of prisoners, including juveniles.
The international community must demonstrate that it is paying attention to human rights in Iran. Although Resolution A/C.3/69/L.33 welcomes a number of positive statements made by... read more
On Friday October 31, the Islamic Republic of Iran participated in its second ever Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It turned out to be quite the showdown, and Small Media was there live tweeting the event.
We thought we'd share the event with those of you who weren't able to join in.
Last month we launched UPRIran.org, the world's first data visualisation of a country's UPR, so we had a vested interest in following along.
Check out the results from 2010's round of recommendations on the UPR Iran site, now!
Over the past two years, Small Media has kept a closely trained eye on internet policy developments in Iran, publishing regular updates about the domestic policy sphere.
Although our research has yielded valuable insights into Iran’s efforts to censor and control the internet, we haven’t yet taken account of Iran’s contributions to the contentious global debate over the future of internet regulation.
At the moment, we are working on a new project called ‘Chaos and Control: The Competing Tensions of Internet Governance in Iran’. Throughout the research process, we’re trying something a bit different. At a few checkpoints along the way, we will share our preliminary findings and sketches with you on our blog. We’d love your... read more
Iranian internet users are forced to endure some of the slowest connection speeds in the world. Even President Hassan Rouhani has highlighted the everyday frustrations posed by the agonisingly slow pace of internet browsing, joking at a press conference that the slow speeds advocated by clerics are enough to send students and academics to sleep long before they open up any research articles. This month’s report offers an overview of the primary reasons Iranian internet connections remain so lethargic when compared to those of its neighbours, as well as the issues that result in the massive overinflation of internet costs.
This report also documents all the policy and infrastructure developments that occurred through September 2014, including ongoing debates over the future of... read more
Today, we join several human rights NGOs - including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Article 19 - in signing an open letter to President Rouhani, urging him to ensure that Iran honours its commitments by allowing independent human rights experts to enter the country.
In 2002, Iran issued a standing invitation to experts from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), but the last time Iranian authorities actually permitted any of these experts to visit was in 2005.
These ‘country visits’ are a crucial tool employed by the UN... read more
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have emerged as the leading circumvention tools used by Iran’s online population. Seeking to dodge the state’s pervasive and comprehensive filtering system, millions of users have made use of the tools to access forbidden social media sites, dodge economic sanctions, and connect with Iranian diaspora community sites. This month’s report evaluates the state’s often-confused policy responses to the prevalence of VPN usage, as well as engaging in a survey of VPN users on the ground in Iran, to determine their patterns of use.
We also delve into the past month’s most significant policy developments, taking in the divided reactions of different segments of the ICT establishment in the wake of the roll-out of massively-expanded 3G and 4G coverage... read more
We’re very excited to announce a new collaboration with CyberOrient, the Online Journal of the Virtual Middle East. Small Media will be guest editing the Fall 2015 edition of the journal, titled ‘A Safe Refuge? Minorities and the State in Iranian Cyberspace’, and we’d very much welcome your contributions.
Here's a brief overview the research topic:
"This special issue of CyberOrient invites contributors to explore how Iranian minority groups have embraced technology to overcome state marginalization, strengthen communities, and push back against entrenched societal prejudices. Topics might include the role of online networks in community formation; the impact of state filtering programmes upon... read more
This month’s report features an investigation into the rise of the ‘clones’ in the Iranian tech sector: mobile apps and online services that are being copied in part, or in full from existing apps and services that have been developed in China and the West. We propose that the large-scale ‘cloning’ of popular services is a key pillar in Iran’s ongoing effort to tighten restrictions on Iranians’ access to the global internet, and to cultivate wider engagement with Iranian-based sites and services in order to bolster Iran’s programme of internet censorship.
In addition, this month’s report catalogues the latest statements from Iran’s leading voices in the ICT sector, and the latest developments in the fields of Iranian internet policy-making, online censorship, and... read more
Since the emergence of Bitcoin back in 2009, a variety of national governments have been grappling with the conundrum of how far they should recognise, and regulate the cryptocurrency. Whilst some countries including Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States have taken a fairly laissez faire approach towards Bitcoin, the Russian and Indian governments have led the charge in pushing for greater state oversight.
Iran, meanwhile, has been far more sluggish in formulating a coherent Bitcoin policy - only in the early months of 2014 have politicians and regulators started to take an interest. Our report this month reviews the initial findings of Iranian research into Bitcoin, explores potential policy implications, and evaluates the impact of Bitcoin in Iran up until... read more