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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 14:23 GMT
Iranian bloggers on web restrictions
Iranian bloggers have reacted with anger and scorn to a new law requiring them to register their websites and blogsites with the authorities.

It is being seen as the latest attempt by the Iranian government to control the media.

A contributor to BBC Persian.com, Fariba Sahraie, asked six Iranian bloggers - inside and outside Iran - if they thought the law could be enforced and what effect it would have.


Blogger Omid Mermarian
Omid Mermarian was tortured in an Iranian jail before moving to the US
The bloggers who write about politics or culture from a critical standpoint are people who are already known to everybody, and they abide by the law.

There are others who are either unknown or who write under aliases, and there's a third group who write from outside Iran.

This law only addresses the first group: the people whose names and addresses are known.

It is highly likely that if it is enforced, more and more bloggers will go underground.

This legislation would mean that every blogger who is an intellectual, a journalist, a social activist, or who writes under his own name would have to blog in line with government taste.

This would threaten the very existence of many social, political and cultural blogs. Even those that write about women.

Many influential weblogs are already being censored by the government.

This law would result in many websites and blogs being closed down. Or at the very least, they would become increasingly conservative.


Web image for blogger Abolhassan Mokhtabad
Abolhassan Mokhtabad blogs from Tehran

This law is about registering companies. But there is a difference between weblogs and companies.

The government should trust its citizens and tolerate them.

But concepts of trust and tolerance do not exist in the current government.

The drive to curb the media started with the newspapers. Now they are widening the scope to include the internet.

The Iranian government should remember what is happening in China. Nearly 30 thousand people are currently employed to control Chinese weblogs.

Beijing is spending a lot of money in controlling the flow of information.

This is impractical and impossible to do in Iran. It will also provoke even sharper criticism of the Iranian government.


Blogger Nazly Kamvari
Nazly Kamvari blogs from Canada

Well, I have been trying to call the Iranian embassy in Ottowa to ask how I can register my weblog.

There was no answer and I got worried, because I really don't want to do anything illegal.

Seriously, there is no legal or practical foundation for this law. Even in north America there is still no law governing the internet.

Ensuring free dialogue can take place is one of the first conditions of restoring democracy. This law is diametrically opposed to that, even if it is being presented in an innocent way.

And anyway, what is the budget for this and how many people will be checking the websites every day?

Enforcing this law will officially put Iran on the list of the countries which are enemies of the internet.

Pro-democracy groups will find more reasons to criticise the Iranian government.


Web image for Paristoo Docouhaky
Web image for Paristoo Docouhaky

It strikes me that getting rid of all sorts of private media is one of the objectives of this government.

Look at the newspapers. Every day you see fewer and fewer exclusive news stories.

Do you know why? It's because government officials don't welcome reporters.

At the moment, websites are the only outlet for those who care about freedom of information and for those who work in news.

Ministers want to limit and control websites, because they want to get rid of the media.

They have not given the issue any real thought, because destroying the media is tantamount to destroying the government.

Is this practical? It would be too optimistic to say it's not possible to restrict websites.

Just look at China. There, no stone is left unturned in the quest for media control.


Blogger Shayan Mashatian
Shayan Mashatian blogs from Toronto

Is the government - as the institution in charge of our society - entitled to impose such control over websites?

We all know that the drive to control the media began with radio [in the 1930s, the Iranian government said people had to get a permit before they could own a radio set] and has continued as far as satellite TV. The internet is the next step.

When the services on mobile phones become more popular, the same approach will be taken towards things like SMS texts.

This law can only be enforced on bloggers who have their own domain name.

If it's followed through, it will be yet another impractical and unenforceable law to add to those we already have.

And all this is irrespective of whether we actually agree with the law.


The plan is fundamentally flawed and is drawn up by people who know nothing about telecommunications.

Any attempt to limit the internet will backfire.

When video machines were banned in Iran, everyone tried to get one to use at home.

The restriction of information is taking place in our country, even though it hasn't worked in the past.

Do you remember when Mr Gharazi was the Minister for telecommunications? [In the late 1980s and early 1990s] He called on everyone with a fax machine register it at the post office. That didn't work either.

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