Iran bans fast internet to cut west’s influence

– To my thinking, ideas should stand or fall on their own merit. Therefore, when governments control information to direct the thoughts and perceptions of their populations, they are revealing that they don’t beleive that the ideas they are promoting could stand on their own merit.

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· Service providers told to restrict online speeds
· Opponents say move will hamper country’s progress

Iran’s Islamic government has opened a new front in its drive to stifle domestic political dissent and combat the influence of western culture – by banning high-speed internet links.

In a blow to the country’s estimated 5 million internet users, service providers have been told to restrict online speeds to 128 kilobytes a second and been forbidden from offering fast broadband packages. The move by Iran’s telecommunications regulator will make it more difficult to download foreign music, films and television programmes, which the authorities blame for undermining Islamic culture among the younger generation. It will also impede efforts by political opposition groups to organise by uploading information on to the net.

The order follows a purge on illegal satellite dishes, which millions of Iranians use to clandestinely watch western television. Police have seized thousands of dishes in recent months.

The latest step has drawn condemnation from MPs, internet service companies and academics, who say it will hamper Iran’s progress. “Every country in the world is moving towards modernisation and a major element of this is high-speed internet access,” said Ramazan-ali Sedeghzadeh, chairman of the parliamentary telecommunications committee. “The country needs it for development and access to contemporary science.”

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