Iran SMS networks "mysteriously" fail right before elections

There are multiple reports that the text-messaging systems on cellphone networks in Iran went down just before the polls opened. Boing Boing reader Jadi says, "Right now, there are many ongoing protests in the streets against the fraud and still SMS system is down."
According to Ghalam News and multiple Twitterers in Tehran, the text messaging system in Iran has been taken down, just hours before polls open for Friday's presidential election.(...)

The Ghalam News report, translated from Persian, says that the popular network "was cut off throughout the country." The action occurred just before midnight local time, less than nine hours before the start of elections. "All walks of life from all over the country" are discovering that "messages on different cell phone networks will not send."

Blog accounts: Textually, Mideast Monitoring, i-policy.


  1. Well, when you’re a dictator running a sham of an election (I’m talking about the Ayatollah, not his puppet) you can’t have people posting their votes on the internet, letting the whole world know who the people actually wanted.

  2. “behi_at: #IranElection: #facebook, #youtube and opposition websites are blocked. mobile networks are disabled in #Tehran”

  3. The Ayatollah’s a Rock’n’Rolla apparently.

    Ayatollah (to the Iranian democratic process): Don’t catch a cold, Persia.

  4. Greetings

    Much harder to keep the lid on when oil is cheap and plentiful

    Undoudtedly our good friends in Saudi are paying close attention

  5. Indeed, Warlord.
    “this is the way of the modern world/everyone’s vying for dominance…..but something’s gotta give.”
    -Bad Religion

  6. I would say that it is a pretty safe bet that the election was rigged on an epic scale. The smoking gun is when Mir Hossein Mousavi is said to have lost in his home town by a wide margin. That would be roughly like finding out that Obama lost Chicago to McCain. Even a most believing idiot has to look at that result and scratch their head.

    It is a shame. I always thought that Iran had a great deal of potential. It was one of the few democracies in the region. There was never much of a reason for the one of the few legitimate democracy in the region to be so alienated from the world. I really thought Iran’s alienation and isolation was about to come to an abrupt end and that you were going to see the nation flourish. Instead, it is pretty clear that instead of coming onto the world stage in grand style, Iran is just going to shell up, hunker down, and instead of being revered, be pitied.

    My heart goes out to the youth of Iran who at this point must be close to losing their minds.

  7. We need a cure for greedy alpha apes. Lately I feel like we’re at the end of Stand on Zanzibar, but there’s no Beninia showing us a different way to be.

  8. Similar things occured in the last election in Turkey. Electricity network sabotaged in some districts, vote boxes are stolen, media oppressed before the election… When the chaos ended, government’s candidates were elected in the cities where opponents leading. Cheer up guys, world will have a brand new dictator…

  9. so long as everyone stays out of it and lets the Iranian people determine their own destiny.

  10. #2: Facebook is always blocked in Iran, not just now.

    #10: You mean quasi-legitimate. Letting religious leaders block who can be a candidate isn’t exactly a full “democracy”. At least there was some voting, regardless of rigging. That’s more than most of their neighbors can say.

  11. History shows that “staying out of it” can be just as disastrous as intervention. The trick is to choose the right one in time for the decision to mean anything.

  12. Well, no matter how blatant the election fraud, nor how brutal and sadistic the crackdown, Ahmadinejad is anti-American enough that the western far-Left will defend him, and anti-Jewish enough that the western far-Right will defend him.

  13. In summary:

    Ayatollah: Who do you want to be president?

    Iranian people: Well I’d want…


    (but less funny)

  14. This is what you get when you rely on a state/large corporation for your communications. SMS is a single (or small number of) point(s) of failure. For that matter so is the Internet (in most countries a handful of ISPs serve the majority of the population. People take the mode of comms for granted until an occasion like this, when it gets switched off for political purposes. It is not beyond imagining this happening in the US or UK, what with how the telcos tend to do the govts’ bidding. The only way around is to build your own decentralised communications channels when times are good. Bring on 802.11s!

  15. Election day. Riots on the streets. Things could get really out of hand really fast, especially if a few bombs go off. What is a reliable and cheap way of remotely detonating a bomb? Cellphones…

    If you ask me disabling the SMS network before a major election in a tense Arab country makes perfect sense. Perhaps more so in a place like Lebanon or Iraq, but even still: if the Iranian equivalent of the FBI had good cause to beleive some bombs were going to be set off, disabling the cell network is a legitimate response.

    Because meddling with a foreign election in a strategically important country is something that the Special Interests would never do…

  16. did America deserve to survive? Did someone have to fix the election to drive the stake in the heart of the Cheney Machine?

    The Irani people have the absolute right to either make a country or go to hell in a handbasket according to their wishes and their will to make the country they want.

    If they have been cheated and do not have the strength to defeat their oppressors on their own, they do not deserve a country of their own.

    Leave Iran alone. After they have put their own house in order, treat with them.

  17. I reluctantly agree with Takuan on this one. Let’s not get all Trotskyite over this, ala, our foreign policy over the past 4 administrations. The UN should to wake up and come in to count the votes, but if one of the greatest cultures in the world can get their shit together on their own it will be for the better.

  18. As I understand it, being President of Iran is not really a meaningful position in the actual power structure in Iran. Iran has what I would call (with apologies to Bruce Schneier)”Democracy Theater” – the true power lies with the Mullahs and the Ayatollah, and the Ayatollah has announced that Ahmadinijad won the election.

    Calling this a free and open election is wrong, the related issues “shutting down” the tools of the opposition, the appearance of shenanigans (opponent losing his hometown by a wide margin, for example), etc. reveals the true nature of this “exercise”…

  19. Keep in mind that we already know some ways in which Iranian elections have been and continue to be “rigged” in the pre-emptive limitations on who can run for office. The field of candidates are approved or rejected by theocrats, so it’s not a free and fair process even if there’s no vote tampering after the election.

    Takuan, I wouldn’t promote military action against Iran, but what you wrote sounds kind of social Darwinist, or political Darwinist: “If they have been cheated and do not have the strength to defeat their oppressors on their own, they do not deserve a country of their own.” Does that mean anyone who can take power deserves to be in power, until or unless they can be overthrown by the people they’re oppressing?

  20. “Democracy cannot be completely entrusted to the average citizen.” – Thomas Jefferson (attrib.)

    “…There ought to be limits to freedom!”
    -George W. Bush

    I find it’s interesting that the information age allows examples of oppression around the world to stand out far more clearly than ever before, even if this is merely business as usual. Isn’t this the same activity which happened on the Tianamen Square anniversary?

    Most Americans and some Western Europeans take for granted just how lucky the West is to have open elections with a relatively low amount of corruption. Most of the rest of the world is closer to Iran’s electoral policies than they’d care to admit.

    At least it gives hope that controlling information (and therefore people’s minds) is much harder than it used to be. Even Fox News isn’t as good at misinformation as it used to be.

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