The threat of Gmail for Islamic leaders

The state of human rights in Iran in 2009 has been grim and worsening.

Reporters Without Borders highlights the web apartheid (possibly backed by Western multinationals):

The authorities have also targeted the Internet in an attempt to extend their control to the new media. News websites that were likely to criticise Ahmadinejad’s victory, including around 10 opposition websites, were pre-emptively censored on 11 June, the eve of the election. Since then, every effort has been made to prevent news and information about the regime’s opponents circulating online.

This policy is continuing. Internet connections were slowed right down or blocked altogether in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz on the eve of opposition demonstrations that were announced in advance, such as those on 4 November and 7 December.

The slow-down began earlier than usual before the latest protests on 7 December. Internet connections became very slow on 5 December, making it impossible to browse or send emails. Gmail and Yahoo welcome pages no longer displayed. “I wanted to send emails but even if the Gmail welcome page displayed, the ”˜Send’ button did not,” one Iranian told Reporters Without Borders, referring to his Internet connection on 7 December.