Iran Shuts Down WhatsApp And Instagram As Protests Spread

Protests over the killing of a female police officer in Iran continue. Access to Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media platforms has been restricted.

During this time, major internet outages have occurred across the country. Cellphone services were also affected.

Mahsa, aged 22, was taken into custody by morality police in the country for her ‘unsuitable clothing’. She had been wearing an improperly fitted hijab. According to the authorities, she had sudden heart failure and denied any wrongdoing. However, protests have erupted across the country and at least eight people were reported to have died.

NetBlocks’ data shows that the authorities responded with an array of Internet restrictions. These are the strongest since the Nov 2019 massacre, which left over 300 people dead.

Iran has long banned Facebook and Twitter. Instagram and WhatsApp were previously restricted to Iranian users who have a +98 number. MCI and Rightel mobile networks have also been shut down.

NetBlocks states that “Users also reported disconnections of or slow downs in internet service in many cities” since Friday, 16 September 2022.

“The network disruptions are likely to severely limit the public’s ability to express political discontent and communicate freely.”

The network layer has caused traffic disruption. Virtual private networks (VPNs) and circumvention software are not usually able to get around the block.

Iran, which has blocked internet access five times in 2021, is one of the worst violators of intenet shut downs.

Access Now and PEN America, as well as Reporters Without Borders, have released a joint statement requesting that the International Telecommunication Union, (ITU), demand Iran to reverse its actions.

They also ask the Iranian government for policies and practices that are in compliance with international human right law. This will recognize the essential role of the internet in exercising human rights and protect against shutting downs.

“In the past, Iran’s government displayed a similar pattern for preferential treatment or tiered access. This meant that institutions like banks and news agencies as well as government offices, were able to stay connected to the internet. However, regular Iranians using the same ISPs are disconnected. All authorities in Iran must make every effort to provide internet access.

Pro-government websites also experience downtime due to the shutdowns. Anonymous claims that it attacked two Iranian government websites, as well other websites.

“The Iranian people don’t have to be alone. Anonymous won’t keep Iran’s government online alive as long as it fights dictatorial rule, murderous cops,” the video declaration states.

You censored the social media of your people to conceal your crimes. Anonymous will block you, and you will be removed from power by your own people.”

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