I’m a software developer and user interface designer based in Tehran, Iran. I’ve been working as a designer/developer in Tech industry since 2003.
Iranian tech community has been trying to keep up with the world specially the United States since almost every big revolution in tech happens there. We have many talented engineers, developers, designers, analysts and entrepreneurs in Iran and many of them are as educated as the ones in the United States and other industrial countries. They study, read, educate themselves and keep up with what’s happening right now in the world.
It’s true that we don’t have access to high speed uncensored Internet like the rest the of the world and this makes it really difficult to work and grow in this country. The highest bandwidth we can get our hands on is 8Mbps and without a VPN connection or proxy service, we don’t have access to many sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. But we manage to get our hands on proxy services all the time so accessing blocked websites is not that much of a hassle these days.
Despite all these restrictions, we still do our best to keep up day by day. It’s just more difficult for us than it is for the rest of the world.
In past few years, the United States government has imposed many sanctions on Iran and Iranian people becuase of the political differences they have with the Iranian government (and I’m not going into that) and they claim they are not affecting lives of Iranians and they’re intented to pressure the government.
Here’s the bad news: They make our lives a living hell.
There are sanctions on exporting hardware, software and services to Iran and anyone from Iran, sanctions on education (MOOC, eg. Coursera), Sanctions on providing Iranians with Web Hosting, Domains and SSL Certificates and many more.
I’m going to show you some examples:
- We can not buy hosting space, VPS, domains, SSL certificates and anything related from the companies in the U.S. If even our customer address is located in Iran, our accounts get blocked completely.
- We can not access (even read-only) many Google services like Google Codes and Google Analytics even though Google has official support for our language: Persian.
- We can not use services like cPanel from Iran and if we host a .ir domain or even access the panel from an Iranian IP address, we get blocked.
- We can not access Facebook developers platform if we are from Iran.
- We can not select Iran as our country in Twitter settings (or any other American service or website for that matter)
- We can not use online learning services like Coursera due to recent sanctions.
- There is no “Iran” option in iOS settings even though iOS fully supports it and has a complete Persian keyboard but we can not select it without hacks or jailbreak.
- We can not use payment services like Paypal even if we have a real account outside of Iran, if we access Paypal using Iranian IP address even for a second, Paypal blocks the whole account for ever (and keeps the money).
- We can not use advertising platforms like Google Adsense.
- No company in the United States supports our currency (Iranian Rials) or accept payments from Iran.
- We can not sell or release our work in websites like ThemeForest.
- We can not sell our Apps on online app stores like Google Play or Apple’s Appstore.
- We can not buy anything from stores in the US even if we have a working Paypal account or credit card they wont ship to Iran.
- Many more.
These are all restrictions imposed on us by the U.S. government and companies fearing those rules.
Democracy my ass.
Last year alone, I was thrown out of three American hosting services because either I hosted .ir domains or my contact information was based in Iran.
cPanel alone terminated five of my monthly licenses because of access from Iranian IP addresses! Also they refused to provide support when I was hacked, when they found out that I host a single .ir domain.
My AppleID was blocked several times because I downloaded something without a VPN connection. Please note that many of the Iranians own Apple products even though there is no authorized or official reseller in Iran. Apple products are VERY popular here.
So here’s how I (for example) get services from the United States:
- I have a Paypal account under someone’s name in the U.S and I access my account using a VPN (U.S. IP address) and buy Paypal dollars from dealers in Iran. This proccess is so hard and expensive.
- Whenever I want to register in a website, I enter fake information and fake address which is the U.S. and access it using a VPN connection so the website thinks im from the U.S.
- I use fake information and my Paypal account to buy hosting services and domains.
- The same goes for AppleID. I have set a proxy on my Wi-Fi so I never use my AppleID from an Iranian IP address.
- The list goes on and on.
Isn’t that pathetic? Why should I have to go into this much trouble just to live my life as a developer? What have I done? Just because I’m an Iranian? What’s that called?
Thank you for imposing democracy on us.