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Iran Cracks Down On Internet Use

The Iranian government is making it even harder for citizens to access information from the Internet. The Paris-based independent monitoring group Reporters Without Borders issued a statement expressing "deep concern for the future of the Internet in Iran where censorship is now the rule rather than the exception, after the video sharing website YouTube and that of the U.S. daily New York Times [newspaper] were added to the countries blacklist."

Reporters Without Borders says Iran's clerical regime "is trying to create a digital border to stop culture and news coming from abroad – a vision of the Net which is worrying for the country's future." Internet users have told Reporters Without Borders that for several months Iranian authorities have blocked the Kurdish version of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia.

According to experts, some seven-and-a-half-million Iranians have Internet access. In October, Iran banned high speed Internet connections. The slower speed makes it difficult to access and download western news, movies, and television programs. It impedes efforts by Iranian dissidents to upload information to the Internet. Iran also bans citizens from visiting the Voice of America's website.

Julian Pain of Reporters Without Borders told the Wall Street Journal newspaper that Iran's action hurts Iranian businesses in their attempt to communicate both inside and outside Iran.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey commented on Iran's campaign against free expression:

"We certainly condemn the systematic restrictions on freedom of speech and press that are occurring in Iran, and we urge the [Iranian] regime to respect the rights of its citizens."

Ambassador David Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Information and Communications Policy, said, "Innovative telecommunication technologies have created new economic opportunities and brought benefits unimaginable just a few years ago.... It is the responsibility of all governments," said Ambassador Gross, "to ensure that their domestic policies foster an enabling environment conducive to the deployment of these technologies, and to ensure the ability of their citizens to access and use them."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.