ARTICLE 19’s ‘Tightening the Net’ series monitors and analyses freedom of expression online in Iran.

Freedoms online are becoming increasingly under attack in Iran. While President Rouhani and his administration have made both political promises and international obligations for greater internet freedoms, their actions are heightening concerns that these will go unfulfilled.

This briefing series monitors the situation of online freedoms in Iran, reporting events and issues such as:

  • arrests and intimidation of online journalists
  • online surveillance and harassment of social media users
  • developments around the National Information Network (NIN): the government’s plan to secure and maintain online content, servers, data, and networks inside Iran
  • Legislative proposals and policies which impact online freedoms
  • blocking, restrictions, and filtering of content and online platforms

We analyse the current climate of internet opening and closings in Iran and propose recommendations to the Iranian government, technology companies, and civil society inline with international law.

Latest analysis: Iran’s Draft Data Protection Act

This latest analysis takes a deep dive into Iran’s Personal Data Protection and Safeguarding Draft Act. While a welcome effort, overall, the Draft Act is poorly drafted and inconsistent with the international legal obligations of Iran to adequately protect the privacy rights of its citizens. The Draft Act departs from international standards on data protection and threatens the right to freedom of expression. We outline the threats to freedom of expression and urge the Iranian government to amend the Draft Act in accordance with recommendations to ensure it complies with international human rights standards and properly protects the privacy rights of people in Iran.

Read the analysis.

Tightening the net: Internet freedoms in Iran

Iran’s Draft Data Protection Act: Too little but not too late

In this blog we outline how Iranian lawmakers must implement international digital rights standards in the new Personal Data Protection and Safeguarding Draft Act

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Internet controls during and after Iranian protests

In this instalment, we document how Iranian authorities responded to the 2017–2018 protests through arrests, online surveillance, shutting down international traffic, and imposing temporary bans on Telegram and Instagram platforms. We look at what these developments mean for internet freedoms promised by Rouhani’s administration. One thing is clear: the seeds planted previously for a closed ‘National Information Network’, controlled by the State can no longer be taken as a benign threat following the latest internet shutdowns,  blockings, and unlawful arrests used by authorities to quell the protests.

As well as outlining the Iranian government’s obligations to deliver internet freedoms, we make recommendations to technology companies such as Google and Telegram to help make the Internet safe, secure and accessible for Iranians.

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The State must be transparent about Internet disruptions

On the evening of Wednesday 26 June 2019, 90% of Iran’s ISPs were disrupted or disconnected. During this time Iranians starting reporting Internet outages as they tried to connect to the internet. These incidents raise concerns for freedom of expression and access to a free Internet. Internet shutdowns of this nature clearly violate international human rights law. Given Iran’s past precedent with disrupting the Internet, the Minister of ICT must place transparency as a priority.  The Ministry must, as a starting point transparently document exactly what happened on 26 June. ARTICLE 19 urges the Ministry of ICT to not use vague tweets as an alternative to transparent and accountable government.  Iranians have a right to credible documented evidence for the disruptions they have endured.

 Read the ARTICLE19 brief

Tightening the net: Internet freedoms in Iran