Don’t disconnect. Filterwatch is now available in English and Persian at its new online home.

Dear Reader,

We would like to firstly take this opportunity to thank you for supporting the Filterwatch project over the years. We’re not disappearing– this project and our publications will continue over on our new website at filter.watch, with all of our outputs now available in both English and Persian.

We will continue to publish our monthly Policy and Network Monitors, as well as our longer Investigations. …


Iran’s security forces and Judiciary play a central role in undermining human rights online for all Iranians. Our regular reports will hold them to account.

Over the last few years, we’ve highlighted how President Rouhani and an empowered Supreme Council of Cyberspace (SCC) have together overseen the development of a coherent and dangerous policy agenda that seeks to downgrade Iranians’ digital rights. However, away from the limited transparency of policy papers and regulations, Iran’s Judiciary, Cyber Police (FATA), and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also play significant roles in threatening citizens’ rights online.

Iran’s new Chief Justice (and Head of the Judiciary) Ebrahim Raisi previously went head-to-head with Rouhani on internet governance issues during the 2017 presidential election. During that campaign, Rouhani avoided proper…


Internet disruptions returned during Iran’s January protests, and new legislation regulating messaging apps returned to Parliament.

It goes without saying that January was a tumultuous month for Iran. The United States’ targeted assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s subsequent retaliatory missile strikes into Iraq saw a dramatic escalation of regional tensions. Then, Iran’s subsequent downing of Ukrainian International Airlines Flight 752 — which resulted in the deaths of all 176 passengers — sparked a fresh political crisis in Iran. …


Filterwatch’s new monthly Network Monitor will report on the state of the internet in Iran and and help make sense of any disruptions.

Iran has a long history of disrupting and shutting down the internet. The ongoing development of the National Information Network looks to further empower the authorities to limit or sever Iranians’ access to the global internet, as demonstrated during the near-total internet shutdown in November 2019. While November’s internet shutdown deserved the global media attention it received, it must be noted that shorter internet connectivity disruptions and interruptions to accessing circumvention tools occur regularly inside Iran, and often go unnoticed by media outlets outside the country.

In this evolving climate, it is ever more important for the digital rights community…


As Iran’s information control infrastructure expands, so must the methods for resisting it.

2019 proved to be a defining year in the evolution of the Iranian internet. Small Media started the year by warning about a new policy-making consensus in Iran, and explaining how institutions like the Supreme Council of Cyberspace were threatening to accelerate Iran’s long term localisation agenda. By November, we observed the result of this work: a protracted total internet shutdown and widespread network disruptions hit the global headlines and put questions about Iranian Internet governance at the top of the human rights agenda.

In November, Iranian users found themselves effectively disconnected from the global Internet. This was only possible…


Iran is currently experiencing a near-total internet shutdown. This regularly updated blog documents the blackout, and its effects on ongoing nationwide protests.

Welcome to Filterwatch’s Shutdown Monitor.

Iran is currently experiencing a near-complete internet shutdown that is preventing the vast majority of information from flowing into or out of the country. This shutdown has been imposed by authorities in response to a wave of protests that are sweeping the country, initially sparked by the sudden announcement of a significant increase in petrol prices.

This blog will be updated daily with the latest developments relating to the ongoing shutdown and the ongoing protests. …


By Kaveh Azarhoosh

The debate around filtering has played a prominent role in Iranian domestic political discourse over the last few years. The battle between Rouhani’s administration and judiciary officials has been ongoing since 2013, with the filtering of platforms like Telegram always high on the agenda. Rouhani indicated repeatedly during his re-election campaign in 2017 that a vote for him would be a vote to safeguard the internet from censorship and surveillance.

There’s a reason internet freedom has remained high up the national agenda for such a long period: the ubiquity of Telegram.

For many Iranians, Telegram is not…


Today — on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia — Small Media launches its latest report Breaking the Silence: Digital Media and LGBTQ Rights in Iran. Developed in partnership with a number of Iranian LGBTQ organisations, our new report assesses the state of the LGBTQ community’s digital media ecology and describes how apps, social media platforms, and new community services are transforming the lives of LGBTQ people under intense pressure from the state and wider society.

Breaking the Silence builds upon our 2012 report on LGBTQ rights in Iran, where we showed how Ahmadinejad’s administration was pursuing and…


On 13th December the Director of the government-run Privatisation Organization of Iran Mir Ali Ashraf Abdollahpouri Hosseini announced that it was considering the cancellation of the Telecommunication Company of Iran’s privatisation agreement. As a result, the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC)-controlled Mobin Trust Consortium is at risk of losing its majority shareholder status in Iran’s largest telecoms company, reversing the largest ever transfer of Iranian state assets to an IRGC-affiliated organisation. …


ICT Minister Mahmoud Vaezi leaving the cabinet office

In the ongoing battle between Iran’s censors and its internet users, fights over pornographic (or “indecent”) content have always aroused strong feelings among conservatives. Former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spent millions of dollars and even enlisted the help of the Chinese government to try to stamp out internet porn in Iran once and for all, but his efforts never really bore fruit.

Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani and his ICT ministry adopted a more flexible approach toward Internet users, fighting to improve connection speeds and the accessibility of foreign communication apps like Telegram and Whatsapp. …

Small Media

Small Media is a non-profit based in London that aims to increase the flow of information in Iran and other closed societies.

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