After being blacklisted for several days, the Google email service is back online in the Islamic world. Iran lifts ban on Gmail but lets YouTube still unavailable.
Google’s services have been banned in Iran for some days now. Gmail is among the most popular email services and several times a must have in your day-to-day job. But Iran decided to ban access a few days ago in reaction to YouTube’s refusal to remove the anti-Muhammad film. Most likely due to users’ pressure, the Tehran government decided to restore access to Gmail. But YouTube is still banned.
According to committee member Mohammad Reza Miri, the blocking of Gmail was only a mistake. He stated that it happened due to the lack of information they have in Iran. “We do not have enough technical know-how to differentiate between these two services,” he explained to the Associated Press.
The block on Gmail and YouTube was ordered only days ago over the controversial film “Innocence of Muslims” which was uploaded on YouTube in July. Muslims said the movie was offensive and have reacted with violence and attacks on U.S., German and British embassies in several countries.
The Iranian Government decided to cut access to YouTube, hoping that will prevent any other violent riots. These days, the government finally found the resources to block only YouTube which they firmly declared that they want it inaccessible in Iran, until the movie is completely deleted.
“We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible. Therefore the telecommunications ministry is trying to find a way to solve this problem so that it can block YouTube in the HTTPS protocol while leaving Gmail accessible”, said a spokesperson for the Iranian Government to Reuters.
Fortunately, some of the more skilled Iranians found a way to access Google’s services using virtual private network software. By using VPN, they can pose as users from other countries, and this access their services but it’s not always with the same amount of success.
The Iranian block on YouTube might be just the beginning of what some are saying it is a plan to build an intranet. Iran would be isolated from the rest of the world, while still offering users internet, but with increase censorship government officials explain would be useful in the protection of its citizens.