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

With YouTube Blocked, Iran Offers State Sanctioned Online Video Alternative

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, December 10 2012

Logo for Mehr.Ir

After restricting nationwide access to Gmail and Google Search earlier this fall, Iran has put forward a new effort against the Internet conglomerate’s YouTube arm, in the form of a state-sanctioned online video provider operated by the IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Service).

The service known as Mehr — that’s the Farsi word for “affection” — aims to connect the Persian-speaking web and promote Iranian culture through user-uploaded videos, according to an IRIB official, though a bulk of the site will also be devoted to IRIB-produced TV content. Iran has actively censored YouTube since 2009, when concerns of corruption over the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lead to protests that were widely documented on the video platform, exposing the internationalcommunity to the opposition.

Aparat — the video website operated by Cloob, a social network that is Iran’s version of the oft-censored Facebook — is an existing alternative to YouTube in the country, but many Iranians are circumventing the government blocks with VPNs. Efforts on part of the government to prevent citizens from accessing Twitter, pornographic sites, international news portals like CNN and the BBC, and anti-Islamic content were doubled down this summer , and Reuters reported last week that Chinese telecommunications firms have been shopping surveillance systems to Iranian broadband providers intended to track the online movements of users.

Could it all be part of an effortto create an off-the-grid “Islamic Internet”?

Rumors this summer of a countrywide Intranet for Iran were ultimately debunked, but the Islamic Republic continues to tighten censorship. In the meantime, Mehr is on Facebook.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

More