A member of the Iranian parliament says that about 80 percent of Iranians use tools on their mobile phones to bypass Internet filtering and censorship.

In an interview with ILNA news agency on July 6, Gholamreza Nouri Qazaljeh said that many popular websites in Iran are filtered to the extent that even children and teenagers “have to have tools to pass the filter for their normal work.”

“Statistics show that nearly 80 percent of Iranians have installed anti-filter and VPN (virtual private network) on their phones, while the statistics of its use in Europe are below 10 percent,” he added in the interview, which was about the so-called Cyberspace Protection Bill.

People use VPNs to circumvent government restrictions on websites and bypass any filters to allow free access to the Internet, including websites that are not allowed for people under the age of 18. VPNs are used in free countries mostly to keep the user’s identity hidden.

The Cyberspace Protection Bill would hand control of Iran’s Internet gateways to the armed forces and criminalize the use of VPNs. It has been sent for review to a parliamentary committee despite fierce public criticism.

A draft of the bill released in July last year raised concerns about strengthening the government’s legal authority to block websites and platforms run by foreign technology companies that do not have a local representative in Iran.

It would also require people to register with identification to access the Internet and would criminalize the production, sale, and distribution of VPNs.

Iranian authorities already block tens of thousands of websites and regularly throttle or cut Internet connectivity during crucial periods, including a near-total shutdown for nearly a week amid anti-establishment protests following a disputed election in 2019.

International social-media platforms are already subject to blocking in Iran, and journalists and others rely on VPNs to access services like Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Source » rferl