Following days of disruption in internet services in Iran and conflicting explanations by authorities, cyberspace watchdog NetBlocks has confirmed a loss in national connectivity.
NetBlocks, which monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the internet, said on Monday, “A significant internet outage has been registered in Iran affecting cellular and fixed-line services including Irancell and the TIC gateway; real-time network data show national connectivity at 79% of ordinary levels; incident ongoing.”
Iran’s Telecommunication Company announced that the widespread disruption was caused by a fire in one of the infrastructure facilities. A few days ago, the ministry of information and communications technology had blamed power fluctuations and out-of-date infrastructure at the country’s Electricity Distribution Company for the issue, a claim that the power company denied.
It is not clear what happened in Iran's internet distribution center that the authorities are perhaps trying to hide, but one of the Islamic Republic’s policies to cover up sabotages is obfuscation through conflicting statements that cannot be confirmed or denied.
Iran has been heavily censoring access to the Internet for the past 20 years to restrict citizens’ access to information. Many foreign and Iranian websites, including news media websites, are already blocked in Iran although controls are readily sidestepped by VPNs (virtual private networks) and anti-filtering software.
Since a few months ago, hardliners in the parliament are pushing to ratify a bill to further restrict internet and social media access, and reportedly launch a domestic intranet, whose content can be supervised.
Late in July, Iranians were outraged by a government move to forcibly activate Safe Search on Google for all citizens.