One week after blocking its residents from many Google services, Iran is again permitting access to Gmail and the HTTPS version of Google search. YouTube remains inaccessible within the country as Google has not removed the controversial video that sparked the ban in the first place.
The AFP reported, “Mohammad Reza Miri, a member of the telecommunications ministry committee tasked with filtering the Internet in Iran, was quoted on Monday by the Mehr news agency as saying the Gmail block was an ‘involuntary’ consequence of trying to reinforce censorship of Google’s YouTube video-sharing site. ‘Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services. We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary,’ he said.”
“Intentional or not, the blocking of Gmail had prompted official complaints,” noted The Telegraph. “One legislator, Hossein Garousi, threatened to summon Telecommunications Minister Reza Taqipour to parliament for questioning if it was not unblocked.”
Many Iranians had reportedly already found ways around the ban. “This weekend, an Iranian tech newspaper, Asr-e Ertebat, estimated that if half of Iran’s Internet-using population was using a VPN as a way to circumvent the so-called ‘Filternet,’ local VPN firms were taking in approximately $3.7 million in revenue per month,” wrote Ars Technica’s Cyrus Farivar.
According to the AP, “Iran has an estimated 32 million Internet users out of a total population of around 75 million.”