Iranian Parliament up in arms over Gmail ban

The people of Iran are making sure that their government is well aware of their disapproval of its attempts to block the Internet (or at least scour it of any free speech and western influence) but apparently blocking Gmail was just a step too far.

After just over a week of living without Gmail, even the Parliament is up in arms. The average joe might be upset that he isn’t getting his daily dose of spam, but government officials are apparently upset that they can’t do their jobs without email. And while you’d think that members of Parliament and the like might be above the law in times like this, apparently that’s not the case.

“Some problems have emerged through the blocking of Gmail,” Hussein Garrousi, a member of the Parliamentarian committee on industry, told an independent newspaper. Presumably that means people are royally pissed. But fear not – Iran has a fix (tenuously) on the way!

Ahmadinejad can haz?

Garrousi says the deal goes like this: if someone doesn’t bring back Gmail, then Parliament will summon the Ali Hakim Javadi, minister of telecommunications, for ‘questioning.’ In the meantime, Iran is toiling away at its own insular web.  They’re even making their own search engine (Iranian officials refer to Google as an ‘instrument of espionage,’ which might not be too far from the truth), Fakhr, ‘Pride,’ and email service, Fajr, or ‘Dawn.’ When asked how Fajr will rival Gmail in terms of quality, Javadi replied that “If there is Mercedes Benz on the street, that doesn't mean everyone drives a Mercedes."

Until – and probably after -  these undoubtedly clunky alternatives arrive, the people of Iran are taking matters into their own hands. Since last month, they’ve spent a whopping $4.5 million on proxy services and software to help them get around the crackdown. We’ll keep cheering those folks on from the sidelines – aren’t illicit YouTube videos sweet, guys?

Source: Business Week
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