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.

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Comments on “Iran's Latest Aggressive Censorship Plan: Block All Audio & Video Files”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.


Ninja (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:


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.

Lin (profile) says:


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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