Free Internet for Iran: EU & US Could Help Connect Iranians with the World

Written by | Monday, November 25th, 2019

The idea that United States and European Union could restore the Internet for Iranians, drawn out by Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, has drawn lots of attention. Grenell first tweeted that both partners could “turn the internet on” for Iran after the regime shut it down during protests against fuel price hikes and later added another tweet, encouraging cellphone manufacturers and social media companies to join in the task.
If the state or the provider cuts off the connection to the World Wide Web, nothing works. If a regime, such as the Iranian one, blocks network connections, it’s nearly impossible for most ordinary people to quickly access familiar Internet services, though limited communication may still be possible with a fair amount of effort. The CrossPoint technology (also called XP) works in countries run by authoritarian regimes. For example, during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in early 1990s, the Zamir Transnational Network demonstrated that this technology is a viable solution in extreme conditions. As long as the servers were able to reach a telephone number in a free country, communication with the Internet and the rest of the world was assured.
In Iran and other countries with authoritarian governments, the backbone of a contemporary system would be the hundreds of thousands or even millions of smartphones that people carry around with them. An app could create a network out of the devices of people who take part. However, users trying to avoid the scrutiny of politically repressive regimes such as Iran’s and China’s would need to ensure that they don’t leave digital traces. Not to mention that any messenger software they use to communicate must have end-to-end encryption, such as in the case of WhatsApp. The free internet for Iran that Ambassador Grenell envisions could possibly be implemented with a smartly designed app that would include a number of secret servers operated inside the country that allow telephone communications abroad.

Article Categories:
Asia-Pacific · GLOBAL EUROPE

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