Iran Reportedly Blocks HTTPS. But They Filter Major Sites Anyway

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Just days after the “Arab Spring” conference, where the Iranian Regime once again tried to co-opt the popular uprisings across most of the region – forget Syria, the regime doesn’t want to include them – they are busy emulating their Arab neighbours by interfering with the internet again.

Since a few days after they stole the stole 2009 Presidential Election, the regime has been targeting internet users inside Iran and blocking access to most social networking sites. In late September 2011 they blocked P2P and VPN services, and in July they responded to America’s “outreach programme” by announcing they could block ‘Internet in a suitcase’.

RWW reports: The Iranian government isn’t exactly known as a champion of free speech and access to information. Thus, it’s never shocking to hear about Internet censorship in the country, the state of which appears to be getting worse all the time.

Today, news surfaced that the country is blocking access to websites that use HTTPS. That means that a number of popular, secure websites like Google, Gmail, Yahoo and even online banking sites are inaccessible. Anything based outside the country that uses a secure connection via HTTPS is blocked, according to news reports and a thread on Hacker News. Secure sites based within Iran are reportedly still accessible.

[This is kinda nuts because Iran was already (supposedly) blocking all those services using a long-standing national filtering system, with the exception of Yahoo mail, which famously cooperated with the regime in 2009 by supplying details of 200,000 users]

The shutdown is said to be timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, and is believed to be temporary. Exactly how long it will be in place is unclear. The revolution culminated with the fall of the Shah on February 11, 1979, but the country did not officially become an Islamic Republic until April 1. So, the restrictions could be lifted this weekend, or perhaps several weeks from now.

Meanwhile, developers and members of the Hacker News community are brainstorming ways to help Iranians get around the limitations. Some have suggested setting up Tor bridges for Web users in Iran, although that presents its own logistical issues.

These measures come just as the Iranian government begins to roll out longer-term plans to effectively strangle the Internet to death and create a new, state-sponsored Web for citizens of that country to use. The government is even requiring Internet cafe owners to videotape all patrons so that Web surfers can be more easily identified by authorities.

via Iran Blocks HTTPS, Cutting Off Gmail, Yahoo and Other Major Sites.

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