AFP – Iran is tightening control of the Internet ahead of next month’s presidential election, mindful of violent street protests that social networkers inspired last time around over claims of fraud, users and experts say.
The authorities deny such claims, but have not explained exactly why service has become slower.
Businesses, banks and even state organisations are not spared by the widespread disruption in the Internet, local media say.
“The Internet is in a coma,” said the Ghanoon daily in a report in early this month. “It only happens in Iran: the election comes, the Internet goes,” it said, quoting a tweet in Farsi.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and numerous other sites,including thousands of Western ones, have been censored in Iran since massive street demonstrations that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
Those protests — stifled by a heavy-handed crackdown that led to numerous arrests and even deaths — were instigated online and observers say the authorities are choking the Internet to prevent a recurrence.