Iran’s government has decided to act against those selling VPNs and circumvention software to people, as a measure to further restrict access to the Internet.
The Judiciary department in collaboration with ministry of communications will take legal action against "unauthorized sellers of the VPNs and circumvention tools," local media reported.
ISNA news website that published the news on Wednesday did not say who made the decision, however; many believe it could have been ordered by the Supreme National Security Council, or one of the intelligence services.
Since the beginning of protests in mid-September, the government has been severely restricting Internet access in general and access to popular social media platforms, such as Instagram, WhatsApp and others.
The government is extremely nervous that people use the Internet and social media to share news and images about protests, possibly motivating a larger segment of the population to join demonstrations.
However, restricting access also hurts internet-based businesses. Reports say up to 10 million people's livelihoods may be adversely affected by government’s Internet access denials and its ban on social media platforms.
This has prevented Internet-based businesses from marketing and selling their products and services. Economists believe it will have alarming repercussions for Iran's economy while the country is suffering from high inflation and a recession.
Officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, have repeatedly criticized free access to the internet in recent years, and have been trying to prevent the free flow of information by expanding the "national intranet".