• Blocking Objectionable Web Sites: Tehran and State Department

    December 8, 2011

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Other Ideas

    Iran has blocked ”Virtual Embassy Tehran”, within 24 hours of its launch by the US, accusing the State Department of “meddling” in the internal affairs of the country.

    The State Department launched the virtual online embassy Tuesday to provide (fairly bland) information to Iranians, despite the lack of diplomatic ties, and to “work as a bridge between the American and Iranian people.”

    Accusing the US of “meddling” in the internal affairs of the country, Iran barred the website. US officials responded they were expecting this move by the Iranian government. A State spokesperson said “Many Iranians do have software and virtual private networks that allow them to work around these kinds of blocks. I think, for example, there are millions of Iranians who have access to Facebook and they”ll also be able to use these so-called VPNs to access this site.”

    It is indeed a sad State of affairs when governments block information they find politically objectionable.

    Oh yes, and this:

    The Department of State continues to block access on its own networks to any Wikileaks-related website, including select news and comment sites that have commented about Wikileaks. The cables released by WikiLeaks are of course available to anyone sober enough to operate an internet connection. But, according to the ACLU, the government has spent the last year insisting, over and over, that the WikiLeaks cables are still classified, going so far as interrogating a State Department employee (me) who linked to one of the cables from his personal blog. Now, the State Department has reversed course and acknowledged without comment that at least some of the cables can be released to the public without harming national security.

    The use of specialized software and VPNs that State recommends to Iranians to circumvent the firewall block is prohibited by the State Department to its own employees to get around State’s own firewall blocks.

    Also, a regular reader, whom we’ll call, what the hell, “Popeye,” reports that my blog is now blocked on the Navy’s unclassified network.

    Of course, sailors, State Department officials and Iranians worldwide can still watch this:

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