After a four year block, it seemed that Iran had loosened its hold on the nation’s internet usage, allowing citizens to access Facebook and Twitter.
Just as the excitement of Internet freedom rippled through the country, the websites were blocked once more.
Turns out it wasn’t the government taking a more lax approach to Internet use, but a technical glitch.
Last September the country also restricted access to Google and Gmail, claiming to enhance cyber security.
But why all the restrictions? Iran’s new President, Hassan Rouhani, has been referred to as a ‘moderate cleric’, who is aiming to adopt a different, possibly lighter, approach to politics than his predecessor. Many thought that the unblocking was a sign of the government putting more trust in the internet and its citizens, however the websites were blocked almost immediately after the news reached officials.
Iranians have found ways of side-stepping this block, by using proxy servers to gain access to the social networking sites. But in a time of great new technological advancements and the immense power and content of the internet, it seems sad that people aren’t able to use it to its full potential.
So what would our country be like if we were blocked from Google, Twitter and Facebook? I’m sure we’d all be more productive, with less hassle from trolls and a decline in cyber bullying. But it’s part of our generation and is becoming part of our culture’s DNA. Websites such as Facebook are a place for friends and communication. Twitter is a networking dream and Google holds more knowledge than we can wish to seek.
Here’s hoping that the Iranian government sees the exciting possibilities that the internet can hold, rather than the security risks or a desperate need for total control.