Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - Google censored in Iran as government pushes for ‘national internet’

Iran’s goverment has restricted access to Google’s email service and search engine, it has announced on state television.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 25 September

Google censored in Iran as government pushes for ‘national internet’


Iran’s goverment has restricted access to Google’s email service and search engine, it has announced on state television.

"Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide, and will remain filtered until further notice," said Abdul Samad Khoramabadi, an adviser to Iran's public prosecutor's office. Iranians also received the announcement as a text message on mobile phones.

Iran has one of the biggest Internet filters in the world, preventing Iranians from accessing many Western sites on the official grounds that they are offensive or criminal.

Iranians, however, have commonly been able to bypass government filters by using virtual private network (VPN) software that makes the computer appear as if it is based in another country.

Many believe sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been blocked due to their use in anti-government protests after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Sites expressing views considered anti-government are also routinely blocked.

Google, founded and based in the US, was criticised as an "espionage tool" by a top police official while both its search engine and email service were censored at the start of the year ahead of parliamentary elections in March. The latest move comes amid protests throughout the Muslim world against an anti-Islamic film posted on Google's video-sharing site YouTube, though there has been no official comment.

An Iranian telecommunications consultant living in Germany, Mahmood Tajali Mehr, told the BBC he did not think the restrictions would last long. "This is just a propaganda tool to demonstrate that Iran is doing something against the US, but it is unlikely to last longer than a few days.”

However, there are still concerns that the announcement may be a step towards a more closely monitored web. Officials in Tehran have long spoken of creating a national intranet system which would be largely isolated from the World Wide Web.

Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour said last month that Iran needed to develop its own network to protect the country's information and security.

"Control over the Internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries," he said. "Especially on major issues and during crises, one cannot trust this network at all."



Questions for discussion


For primary:

  • What sort of information do people use search engines like Google to find out?
  • Can you think of any other ways to find the same information?

For secondary:

  • How often do you use Google and email? What impact would it have if someone took away your access to these services?
  • Do you think it is right that governments are able to control what people are able to view online? Why/why not?



Related resources


Absolute Power

  • Help your pupils examine the idea of whether absolute power can ever be achieved with this philosophical scheme of work.

Government

  • Encourage your pupils to think about what they would like to change in society with this group-based activity.

Media Discussion Points

  • Ask your pupils to discuss and consider questions such as do the owners of the media have too much power? Are audiences influenced by what they see and read? Can politicians abuse the power of the media? Should we have laws to protect people’s privacy?

Cultural Impact of the Mass Media

  • Notes outlining the cultural effects of the mass media to discuss with your class.

Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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Half of teachers believe the government’s decision to scrap the existing ICT curriculum will lead to job cuts, according to a survey released this week.

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