Iran to block all Google services, will offer "national email service" as Gmail alternative


Snip from Wall Street Journal article on crackdown today by Iranian authorities in advance of antigovernment protests planned for Thursday:

Iranians have reported widespread service disruptions to Internet and text messaging services, though mobile phones appeared to be operating normally Wednesday. Iran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.'s email services, saying instead that a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out. It wasn't clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Google's email services in Iran.

Guess they weren't too psyched about the Buzz launch, huh? No comment yet from Google.

As Teresa Nielsen Hayden points out, this may be Iran's biggest misstep yet. They will live to regret the day they promised nationalized email. Two words: TECH SUPPORT.

[Image: "Martians over Yazd," billboard on top of a computer store in Iran. A Creative Commons-licensed image shot by Paul Keller.]



  1. “Two words: TECH SUPPORT.”

    But if it’s the government offering the service, wouldn’t customer complaints be considered treasonous?

  2. I bet everyone’s excited about government run email in that country. It’ll make it easier to find the people they want to shoot before they get out into a public place where the act can be seen, though.

  3. You know how that’s got to work. Every user who can’t reach their email for any reason, or who doesn’t like the interface, or whose system crashes or hard drive fails while they’re using email, is going to blame the government.

  4. Not to be too flippant about such totalitarianistic behaviour, but I think we’ve found the source material for Season 4 of the IT Crowd.

    How do you say “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” in Iranian?

  5. So… I’m curious, and maybe an Iranian reader can fill us in: do measures like this make the average citizen *more* technologically capable, as they are forced to do research and figure out technical work-arounds to access the same basic Internet stuff that people in many countries simply go to without any hacks? Is Iran becoming a nation full of hackers as a result? :-) I’m picturing random grandmothers having tea, discussing Tor nodes…

  6. @ TNH: We may overestimate the effect of user annoyance and how it reflects on a government, if said government has a monopoly. I remember that we in France used to have only one, state-run, telecom services provider. That went on until about 1990, when the EU rules made it necessary for the French government to open the telecom market to competition. And the interesting thing is that it worked pretty well. (Differently than how things are done now, but it did work.) There wasn’t an Internet yet, of course, but the home-grown Minitel network provided electronic communications to nearly every home and small business for affordable prices, and was both simple and efficient.

    Of course, all that was before a large segment of the population had been exposed for years to alternative, privately owned, services. Having first had that choice and then losing it would obviously not be as popular as doing the transition the other way round.

  7. Doesn’t it seem to obviously correlate with the same week that it’s been revealed that Google is getting in cozy alliance with the TSA?

    1. NSA. Google is getting cozy with the NSA – i don’t think they have much interest in the Transportation Sec. people…

  8. This is why you do not want to have your government in charge of your Internet, phone, and other communication services.

  9. hmmm. good luck to them. Unblocking geographic restrictions very effective with VPN solutions. Plus added benefit of encrypted emails etc. Just a matter of selecting a connection node in another country. I am using TUVPN.COM solution. Worth a try.

  10. Unrelated : WTF is up whith banner ads in your RSS feed ? I get that you need the money, but as it is it just stops me from reading the article unless I close and reopen it. Happened to me 2 times in 10 minutes.

  11. Before being facetious, remember a 19 year old boy was hanged in Iran, a week ago, for participating in the protests.

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