Iran's Latest Aggressive Censorship Plan: Block All Audio & Video Files

from the seems-a-bit-excessive dept

It's no secret that the Iranian government has a bit of an uncomfortable relationship with the internet. First of all, it's trying to build its own internet, at which point it supposedly would like to block out that "other" internet completely. It's also pretty aggressive in censoring various sites it doesn't like. Over the past few days, it's apparently gone a step further. While there were plenty of reports about it blocking YouTube, someone who prefers to remain anonymous sent over this story, saying that Iran's Filtering Committee (IFC) has started blocking all kinds of audio-visual files, based on filetype:
Then, on October 4, 2012, the IFC began preventing files hosted on servers outside Iran from entering the country by blocking specific file extensions. At the time of writing, this policy applies to all MP3, MP4, AVI and SWF files. This kind of filtering was used after the controversial presidential elections of 2009, amidst harsh crackdowns on freedom of information, and coincides with Iran's current economic crisis and the ensuing protests.
Apparently, those blocks do not apply to those files hosted within the country -- just those from foreign sites. Still, that's a pretty extreme move: blocking all of those files takes away a significant part of the audio-visual part of the web. The article highlights a number of Iranians complaining on Twitter about how these blocks are having a severe negative impact on what they do. Still, it's yet another warning for what happens when a government can aggressively filter the internet in extreme ways.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:11am

    Look, this is all a big misunderstanding. They are just trying to adopt more up-to-date web standards:

    1- Flash is being deprecated in favour of HTML5;
    2- Instead of relying on proprietary mp3 and mp4, Iran is encouraging people to switch to ogg vorbis;
    3- And finally, instead of relying on deprecated avi, they are trying to move people towards webm.

    They are just a bit more aggressive at implementing the standards, that's all.

    /sarcasm

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:12am

    No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    So why worry about it? This is standard rabble-rousing, more of hate directed from its proper target to a largely fabricated external enemy, the "other", those backward repressive foreigners -- WHILE your own gov'ts are doing worse!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    I'm surprised that Iran doesn't rip every song and movie that ever came out of "America" to the highest possible quality and then post them on a massive array of servers and offer them for free to the world - maybe they think that such a move would benefit rather than hurt the US economy.

     

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  4.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:14am

    Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    I'm astonished. I'm actually agreeing with an usual critic? really?

    But still there's a problem with your comment. Regardless of if it will impact you or not, they are doing that to human beings, to their people. That should be a problem. We should be supporting Iranians fighting and denouncing this pile of crap.

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    such a move would benefit rather than hurt the US economy.

    Why interfere with the suicidal process?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    fb39ca4, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Can't people change the extension to .txt or something and then change it back once it is on their computer? Or are they actually inspecting the file contents?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Finally, an opportunity for .mkv files to spread.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:23am

    Work arounds will be found

    Hmm. How long will it take to dust off the old method of transferring media files as text the way MIME was sent in the early days of the Internet.
    I seems governments never tire of Whack-a-Mole.

     

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  9.  
    icon
    velox (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:25am

    Re: Work arounds will be found

    It seems...

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    u know me, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    You are replying to a heartless, soulless, POS, that has no concern for other human beings.
    So why worry about it? Because WE care what happens to others no matter where they live.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:36am

    why complain when Iran does exactly what every other country, including those supposed democratic ones are heading towards anyway? all Iran is doing is getting in first. the USA and EU wont be far behind thanks to the way politicians keep doing what they are to preserve old industry models. the irony is, politicians dont yet realise that they are playing straight into the hands of industries. as soon as they get what they want, industries will be running things, not governments, then those politicians will be as obsolete as the people are already

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    "You are replying to a heartless, soulless, POS, that has no concern for other human beings."

    oob is a media executive?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    You just figured that out...?!?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    You act like the it hasnt happend yet...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 10:45am

    Politicians and their quaint ideas of technology

    Good lord. It's like they don't know anything. Ever hear of a ZIP file? How about an extensionless file that the server gives the proper MIME type to? So many trivial ways around this "block" it's pathetic.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    That is a great idea.
    Iran you should Rip all MAFIAA and make Free to the World.

     

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  17.  
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    Nathan F (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    First, they came for the Iranians but I didn't care because I didn't live in Iran.. and then my government had the bright idea "Well they are doing it.. so we can to!"

     

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  18.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Re:

    Given the extreme lengths WIPO went to to get computers into Iran I'm guessing they simply don't have the hardware available.

     

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  19.  
    icon
    Austin (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    Somewhere in Iran...

    Suspect: "Video files? What video files?! I swear all that SSH traffic really is just a lot of commands."

    Interrogator: "So you typed 9GB of commands in 2 hours?"

    Suspect: "Of course!"

    Interrogator "Um...well..."

    Because sometimes, the alibi is as ridiculous as the charge.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    The dude, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    Yup Ninja.
    End the iranian suffering through your facebook account (refering to denouncing, as for the supporting part if there is no political will it simply won't happen)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    What the Iranians are doing is very much like the "UnityNet" of one alternate history story, where a new "Unitist" government of China and its allies create their own walled off version of the Internet called "UnityNet".

     

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  22.  
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    Yakko Warner (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    You mean the same thing we've been doing to attach "potentially unsafe" spreadsheet and document files in Outlook for years?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Digitari, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 12:58pm

    Re:

    Nothing is new under the sun, it's all been written before, for those that CAN read

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 1:35pm

    Re:

    was the "/sarc" needed?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    monkyyy, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re: No matter what Iran does, won't affect me as US gov't doing same.

    NOOOO

    first hey came for napster, but i didnt care as i listen to music that was given away for free legally

     

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  26.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Morons!

    So, you change the extension, encrypt the file (or re-arrange it so it can be easily reconstituted at the receiving end, though software can probably tell that it is some sort of audio/video data), and what do they know? Are they totally blocking encrypted data, even if sent over un-encrypted http connections? Probably not. So, encrypt file, change the extension, and send it over an un-encrypted link... That should work for awhile.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2012 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re:

    "The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It's all been done before, and will be again."
    -Sherlock Holmes, The Valley Of Fear

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Lin (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 5:58pm

    Re:

    Yes, changing the file extension will work for sharing/email.
    The person receiving it just changes the file back to the correct extension.
    For example - suppose I have an avi video to send to an Iranian friend. I change the file extension from ".avi" to ".abc" and send the file. Then after they receive and download it, they change the extension back to ".avi".
    Now they can watch it.

    However, that same video MUST have the correct file extension in order for it to be viewed in a website.

    SO, changing the extension will work for sending email
    but websites won't be able to show it without the correct file extension.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Bergman (profile), Oct 8th, 2012 @ 7:02pm

    Would it be blasphemy if....?

    Say someone sent an audio file of a man reciting verses from the Quran. And Iran blocked it, thus preventing the words of Mohammed from being heard. Wouldn't that be a crime in Iran?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    mirradric, Oct 9th, 2012 @ 2:26am

    Re: Somewhere in Iran...

    yes. It was one command.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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