Gmail And Google Search Open Again In Iran
October 1, 2012

Iran Tries To Block YouTube, Shuts Out Gmail And Google Search Along With It

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Late last month, Iran began making moves towards creating their own, filtered version of the Internet in order to protect themselves from outside attacks against their government, military and universities. This self-contained Internet not only allows Iran to tighten down security on their internal networks, it also prevents snooping from outside agencies. Iran´s first move towards this protected Internet was to block Google´s search engine as well as their Gmail services, saying they´d filter these services from their Internet “throughout the country until further notice.”

Now, it seems as though Gmail and Google search were mere innocent victims in this situation, as Iran had originally only wanted to block access to Google´s YouTube features. However, as the country doesn´t yet have the technical ability to block one and not the other, Gmail and search were also blocked along with the video service.

Iran has now removed the blocks on Gmail, giving Iranians access to their web-based email for the first time in a week. The secured, HTTPS version of Google search is also said to be available once again, while the unsecured, HTTP version of Google search was never blocked. According to the AFP news agency, Iran is still working on filtering techniques against YouTube.

"Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services. We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary,” said Mohammad Reza Miri, a member of the telecommunications ministry committee responsible for filtering the Internet in Iran, according to the AFP.

“We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible. That is why the telecommunications ministry is seeking a solution to fix the problem to block YouTube under the HTTPS protocol while leaving Gmail accessible. That will soon happen."

This isn´t the first run-in YouTube has had with Iran. In 2009, demonstrators protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began posting videos of their protests and using the video service as a way to spread word of future gatherings. To stop these protests, Iran began censoring YouTube ever since, a fact which is supported by Google´s own monitoring service.

Iran´s latest move to completely remove themselves from the rest of the World Wide Web is par for the course for the Middle Eastern country. While YouTube has been censored since 2009, Google confirmed earlier this year that their Gmail service was blocked in Iran this February. This move was the first hint that Iran might want to build out their own, North-Korea style Intranet as the move away from the rest of the World-Wide Internet.

YouTube has been at the center of scandal in recent months, causing many countries to restrict access to the video site. One video, said to be a trailer for an upcoming movie called “Innocence of Muslims,” in which the prophet Muhammad is (quite poorly) portrayed as a womanizer and abusive to children, has been at the center of many controversies. This absurd video ignited protests and demonstrations in the Middle East as a US Embassy and Consulate were both attacked, the latter burned to the ground.

Brazil has also had trouble with YouTube recently as some videos had allegedly slandered a mayoral candidate in the upcoming elections. Google´s YouTube had refused to take down or censor the video at first, leading a court to find and arrest Google´s head of operations in Brazil, Fábio José Coelho.

YouTube later changed their mind and blocked the videos, which they noted were later taken down by the poster, just before they shut down their account as well.