Last weekend, AFP reported some troublesome news for the people of Iran: The country’s oppressive government has officially banned all foreign email services, including Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and others. In fact, the only domains anyone is officially allowed to access must end in .ir.
The only email services that anyone in Iran may now use (unless they use Tor, or some other service that allows them to break around the country’s firewall) must now end in either Iran.ir, Post.ir, or Chmail.ir.
Interestingly, a quick look at the Who.is registration data for Chmail.ir shows that the domain was actually registered using a Gmail address. Now, this is not simply an example of dark irony. Because the Chmail.ir domain is registered using Gmail, Google could — technically — access that account, change the registration password, and wreak all types of havoc on the service. Not that it would ever do such a thing. But such opportunities do test the limits of Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” modus operandi.
Of course, it is safe to assume that Google would never, ever do something as outrageous as that — even if it would be the “right thing to do.” We just think it’s interesting that it could, if it were so inclined.
Iran first began limiting access to foreign email services back in 2009, when the country’s citizens staged mass protests. Since then, the Iranian government has massively throttled bandwidth, and blocked access to a number of foreign websites, including sites that speak of government opposition.
So far this year, Iran has sentenced to death four people for their activities online, including a Web developer, a website administrator, and an online humorist. These death sentences, as well as the Iranian regime’s increasingly stringent crackdown on online activity of its citizens landed Iran on watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ‘Enemies of the Internet‘ list as one of the world’s most dangerously oppressive governments. Other’s on the list include Burma, China, Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
(Iran flag via Memeburn)