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
Although trade sanctions have stunted the development of e-commerce in Iran, recent years have seen renewed efforts by the government to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by the Internet. One of the most significant new measures in this regard has been the introduction of the eNamad licensing system, which mandates the registration of all online stores with the government. This month’s edition of the Iranian Internet Infrastructure and Policy Report offers a closer look at this new regulatory system, and checks in on health of Iranian e-commerce.
At the same time as Iran has been seeking to regulate online markets, certain segments of the establishment have been stepping up their efforts to regulate and control free expression. In this report we... read more
Despite the election of the moderate Hassan Rouhani to the presidency last year, Iran’s systematic filtering of online content and mobile phone apps continues at full-pace. In this month’s edition of the Iranian Internet Infrastructure and Policy Report, Small Media takes a closer look at one of the bodies most deeply-enmeshed with the process of overseeing and directing filtering policies - the ‘Commission to Determine the Instances of Criminal Content’ (or CDICC).
This month’s report also tracks all the usual news about Iran’s filtering system, national Internet policy, and infrastructure development projects. As well as tracking high-profile splits in the establishment over the filtering of the chat app WhatsApp, this month’s report also finds evidence that the government... read more
There can never be too many fresh perspectives from which to look at a news story. With this in mind, our Social Media Monitoring series draws on Iranian social networking sites in order to gain greater insights into the major discussions and debates that are emerging on Iranian cyberspace.
This month's update turns to the story of the five Iranian soldiers that were abducted by Sunni militants in February. Soon after the story broke, the #FreeIranianSoldiers hashtag engulfed Twitter, and attracted tens of thousands of mentions. But a month on, where was the story at?
We picked up the narrative as the hashtag once again surged in activity at the end of March, in order to find... read more