Iran Admits Defeat in Preventing Use of Cyberspace and Social Media

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. One of the largest ever cyber attacks is slowing global internet services after an organisation blocking "spam" content became a target, with some experts saying the disruption could get worse. To match INTERNET-ATTACK/ REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files (POLAND - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTXXZVX

A senior government affiliated cleric, close to the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, admitted the regime’s defeat in preventing the use of cyberspace and social media by young Iranians, saying that the solution to the cyberspace crisis for the regime is not through filtering, Iran Freedom informs.

The cleric who was speaking in Mashhad on 17 August 2017, added: “We have repeatedly referred to the authorities and talked about it, and we believe that the solution to the problems of cyberspace is not filtering, and we must make the young people not get infected with cyberspace and that necessary attention and surveillance should be done.”

Naser Makarem Shirazi, while admitting this defeat, had previously demanded filtering and preventing the expansion of cyberspace on 26 May 2016, saying, “Of major issues at universities, preventing the expansion of unhealthy cyberspace and social media is very important, as virtual spaces make 90 percent of the world’s cyberspace swampy and morass, and we should think about a plan for that.”

The government cleric has repeatedly shown frenzied reactions to the increasing number of young people turning to cyberspace. These are some of his reactions in this regard:

“We have to admit that there is a significant risk to ambush us, (26 may 2016).”

“Our dear young people… pay attention, pay close attention” that “the Internet and cyberspace and information tools… are at the disposal of the enemies; these are the tools for the enemy’s cultural dominance, (3 June 2016).”

“Social networks are now becoming swampy and morass, and the enemy wants to take away the energy of the youths, 29 June 2016).”

“I cried yesterday to hear cybercrime reports… and the anti-cultural invasion by the enemy, (Raja News website, 23 August 2016).”

Cyberspace has become one of the main concerns of the Iranian regime. This concern is such that, according to Brig. General Gholam Hossein Gheibparvar, head of the Basij Organization, “virtual space is the battlefield” and the system should not approach this issue with “wishful thinking.”

According to the state-run ISNA news agency on 11 August 2017, the Basij commander expressed concern over the “enemy conquering the regime’s trenches” in the cyberspace and called on the regime’s forces to “return to the regime’s deserted trenches to confront the enemy.”