Tehran: Iranian authorities on Saturday, announced to restrict internet access in the country over intensified protests after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after her arrest for allegedly failing to comply with Iran’s strict rules on women’s dress by wearing an “improper hijab”. The internet monitoring agency Netblocks said Friday that Iranians are facing a third wave of “nation-scale” loss of mobile internet connectivity as the protests continue, reported CNN. The watchdog group said earlier in the week that Iran was experiencing the most severe internet restrictions since 2019, with mobile networks largely shut down and social networks Instagram and WhatsApp restricted in the country since protests began.
Iranians both inside the country and in the diaspora are turning to popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers such as Tor Project and Hula VPN, the top downloaded apps available in Iran via Google Play Store to circumvent internet blocks, according to monitoring service AppBrain. However, Netblocks has warned that the kind of internet disruption seen currently in the country “cannot generally be worked around with the use of circumvention software or VPNs,” reported CNN.
Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in protest since the death last week of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was apprehended in Tehran and taken to a “re-education centre”, apparently for not wearing her hijab properly. Since Friday, demonstrations have taken place in at least 40 cities nationwide, including the capital Tehran, with protesters demanding an end to violence and discrimination against women as well as an end to compulsory wearing of the hijab.
Dozens of protesters have reportedly been killed in the resulting clashes with security forces, reported CNN. Amnesty International said Friday that at least 30 people, including four children, had died; according to state media the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, 35 people have died. Authorities hope that by restricting the internet they can bring the protests under control.
Speaking with state broadcaster IRIB on Friday, Iran’s Minister of Communications Ahmad Vahidi said, “Until the riots end, the internet will have limitations. To prevent riot organization through social media, we are obliged to create internet limitations.