Iran Culture Minister wants social media ban lifted

Iran’s government should legalize access to social-networking websites, including Twitter and Facebook (FB), Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ali Jannati said.

“Not only Facebook, but other social networks should be accessible and the illegal qualification should be removed,” Jannati said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran currently blocks access to websites it considers politically sensitive and to social-networking sites, which activists used in 2009 to organize street protests after a disputed presidential vote.

The ban spurred some Iranians to use virtual private networks to circumvent the controls through computers located abroad. About 2 million Iranians have Facebook accounts, half of them in the capital, Tehran, deputy parliamentary speaker Mohammad Hassan Aboutorabi-Fard said in January.

Several Iranian officials including Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham have Facebook or Twitter accounts, or both. President Hassan Rouhani’s Twitter account has more than 122,000 followers.

Jannati said he doesn’t control Internet bans, which are overseen by a “filtering committee” that’s not under the direct supervision of his ministry. The Culture Ministry has one representative on that committee, he added without elaborating.

Jannati, a former ambassador to Kuwait and the son of the influential Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, was approved as culture minister by the Parliament in August.

By Bloomberg


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