In the past month, several regime officials have backed Internet filtering in Iran and threatened Iranians who call for the election boycott.
The Chief Justice of Kurdistan said in a meeting on June 1 that anyone who crossed the regimes “red line” in cyberspace regarding the upcoming elections would be severely dealt with. According to the state-run ISNA News Agency, Seyed Hossein Hosseini said the Judiciary would monitor everyone’s activities on the internet and that offenders would be “severely” dealt with without any leniency.
“All regimes have organizations similar to the Guardian Council and if there is doubt in some people’s competence, they will be scrutinized,” the cleric added.
He also said cyberspace should be used “correctly” and with a positive approach to achieve “healthy and fervent” elections.
Before this on May 28, Iran’s Chief of Police, Hossein Ashtari threatened “election norm breakers” and “those who encourage people not to vote” and said they would be dealt with.
“The (Supreme) Leader of the revolution cited everything in his meeting with members of parliament and determined everyone’s duty. The Police and the Judiciary will deal with anyone who transgresses according to the law,” he said according to the state-run Entekhab website.
Also on May 28, the Head of Friday Prayers in Isfahan, who also represents the regime’s Supreme Leader in the central city, said Iran should follow Syria’s example in elections.
There were also reports that the intelligence agents in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have contacted several social media activists, threatening them not to post content that criticizes Raisi, otherwise they would be in “trouble”.
Security police and Iran’s Cyber Police (FATA) have also contacted many activists, putting them under pressure because of their stance.
A letter classified as top secret that has recently revealed by an internet freedom activist, shows that the regime’s judiciary intends to ramp up Internet filtering in Iran and restrict social-media access to election material including calls to boycott the June presidential vote.
To ramp up Internet filtering in Iran the judiciary has ordered Internet Service Providers to filter Instagram in such a way that all access through any anti-filtering tools including VPNs (virtual private networks) would not be possible. Most Iranians use VPNs to get around an extensive government Internet filter.
Institutions related to Internet filtering in Iran
- Supreme Council of Cyberspace (established on March 7, 2012)
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (established in May 1979)
- Working Group for Determining Cases of Criminal Content (Established in 2009) Meanwhile
- FATA Police (established on February 24, 2011)
- Cyber Army (established in 2005)
Ali Khamenei has an important role in determining the main people influencing the filtering institutions.
Source: Iran Human Rights Monitor
Also read: Khamenei tightens grip on social media with Cyber Security Law, fearing its influence in Iran