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Ctrl+Alt+Delete: Iran's Response to the Internet

In addition, clerics are prosecuted under the Procedural Law for Establishing Special Prosecutors and Clerical Courts. Under Article 18, “Every action or failure of action that is punishable and amenable to prosecution according to civil or Shari’a laws shall constitute a crime.”133 The accompanying note to the Article further provides that “actions [by clerics] that insult the dignity of the clerical establishment and the Islamic Republic shall constitute a crime.”134

Other rules are simply announced by government organs such as the Supreme Council for Cultural Revolution (SCCR) and the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). For example, in February 2003, the SNSC ordered that members of the press were prohibited from speaking to a list of foreign media outlets including Radio Farda.135

2.2. Internet-Specific Laws

The root of the Islamic Republic’s legal response to the Internet lies in a May 2001 order by the Supreme Leader entitled “Overall Policies on Computer-based Information-providing Networks.” He ordered that access to the World Wide Web be provided only by authorized entities.136 By November 2001, the SCCR responded with a resolution called “Regulations and Conditions Related to Computerized Information Networks.”137 It ordered that access service providers (ASP)138 be placed under state control and that ISPs remove all anti-government and all anti-Islamic websites from their servers.139 The resolution also required ISPs to use filtration technology, and to monitor and record Internet use of their customers.140 Finally, it specified that individuals applying for ISP licenses cannot be members of anti-revolutionary or illegal groups. To obtain a license, one must be an Iranian citizen, committed to the Constitution, and a member of one of the officially accepted religions.141

2.2.1. The Cyber Crime Penal Code

In early 2002, the head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi, established the Committee for Combating Cyber Crimes to work on a cyber crime penal code,142 and proposed the creation of a new judicial office to deal with cyber offenses.143 In 2006, the Committee prepared a draft Cyber Crime Penal Code and submitted it to the Majlis.144 Though most of the draft bill’s provisions concern issues such as information security, several important articles directly impact freedom of expression on the Internet. For example, Chapter Four (Articles 13-17) defines crimes related to content.145

[133]Ay’in Namihyyih Dadsiraha va Dadgahhayih Vijhihyyih Ruhaniat [Procedural Law for Establishing Special Prosecutors and Clerical Courts] 1384 [ratified 1990; amended 2005], art. 18, available (in Persian) at http://daneshpajuh.ir/Ghavanin/Ghavanin_6_1.html (last visited Apr. 22, 2009).
[135]Witness Statement of Sigarchi, supra note 59, ¶ 8; Interview with Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, supra note 75.
[136]IRAN’S CSOS TRAINING & RESEARCH CENTER, A REPORT ON THE STATUS OF THE INTERNET IN IRAN 8 (2005), available athttp://www.frontlinedefenders.org/files/en/2506_Report%20on%20Internet%20Access%20in%20Iran.pdf (last visited Apr. 22, 2009) [hereinafter ICTRC REPORT].
[137]See Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution Regulations of 6 November 2001 (regarding conditions related to computerized information networks) (Iran), available (in Persian) at http://www.iranculture.org/provs/view.php?id=1230 (last visited Apr. 22, 2009).
[138]In Iran, ASPs provide the bandwidth to ISPs who then sell accounts to users.
[139]Rahimi, supra note 9, at 46. Websites are not allowed to publish material that is in conflict with or insulting to Islamic doctrine, the revolution’s values, the thoughts of Imam Khomeini, or the Constitution. They are also prohibited from publishing material that jeopardizes national solidarity, instills cynicism in the public regarding the legitimacy or efficiency of the ruling government, propagates a good image of illegal groups, reveals classified information or promotes vices such as smoking. ICTRC REPORT, supra note 136, at 9.
[140]Id. at 8.
[141]Id. at 9. Under the Iranian Constitution, the only officially accepted religions are Twelver Shi’ism, other “Islamic schools” (i.e. Sunni), Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity. IRANIAN CONST., supra note 48 arts. 12-13.
[142]Rahimi, supra note 9, at 46-47; OPENNET INITIATIVE, supra note 12, at 3.
[143]Rahimi, supra note 9, at 47; OPENNET INITIATIVE, supra note 12, at 3.
[144]OPENNET INITIATIVE, supra note 12, at 3.
[145]See, e.g., Qanun-i Jarayim-i Rayanih’i [Cyber Crimes Penal Code] (Draft) arts. 13-17, available (in Persian) at http://www.ictna.ir/summon/archives/001089.html (last visited Apr. 27, 2009).

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Tagged as:

Free Speech, Right to Protest, Cyber Journalism, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Free Association, Political Freedom, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination