Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Bringing Down Iran's State-Run Media

BY Nancy Scola | Sunday, June 14 2009

In light of the abundant Twittering and Facebooking happening this weekend in response to Iran's contested presidential election, an obvious question that has come up has to do with where and how the many engaged observers outside Iran can otherwise channel their considerable energies and interest. One answer tonight might involve a bit of cyber aggression aimed at the Iranian government. Josh Koster of the DC-based political firm Chong and Koster, along with others, has been attempting to crash www.IRIB.ir -- the Farsi-language website of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, a government-sponsored media outlet. IRIB seems to be backing the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim to re-election. On its English-language version, at least, IRIB has been promulgating his framing of his hold on office as "the true manifestation of people's [sic] right to decide their own destiny."

To try to bring down IRIB.ir, Koster and others making use of a free web app called Page Reboot. According to the site, the tool is useful for getting in on eBay auctions in their closing seconds. You can also might imagine this being a killer way to finally score Momofuku reservations. Here though, the customized anti-IRIB link being passed around through Twitter and, according to Koster, various listservs is encoded to repeatedly refresh IRIB.ir once every second -- as long as the browser window is left open. In effect, each click of the link then sets in motion a tiny catapult aiming its rocks in the direction of the Iranian government establishment. The hoped-for result is that all those many rocks add up to a denial-of-service attack that succeeds in otherwise blocking access to the site.

There's no doubt that the IRIB site is the subject of an unusual level of attention this weekend, and there's a good chance that the Iranian site isn't set up on redundant servers the way WhiteHouse.gov is, for example. Whether it's due to that interest, poor infrastructure, Koster et al's efforts, or a combination of all three and other factors, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting site is indeed, from these seats, unresponsive at the moment.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

More