And Iran, Iran from Gmail


In case you are wondering about the title of this post, you need to do two things. Stop thinking about Google Buzz for a minute (please!) and also try to remember a song from way back when called “I Ran (So Far Away)” by Flock of Seagulls. Now sing the chorus using the title of the post and you’ll get it. See? Clever, right?

Anyway, it appears that while Iran has marked February 11th as a day of reckoning for the west (something to do with uranium which doesn’t matter to the Internet marketing world because we have to sell things, right?) I have to guess that their biggest announcement must have been how they are going to suspend Gmail services in Iran. Boy, if you want to hurt the west, screw uranium, go after Google. Now, that’s playing hardball.

The Wall Street Journal reports

Iran’s telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google Inc.’s email services, saying a national email service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out.

It wasn’t clear late Wednesday what effect the order had on Gmail services in Iran, or even if Iran had implemented its new policy. Iranian officials have claimed technological advances in the past that they haven’t been able to execute.

A Google spokesman said in a statement, “We have heard from users in Iran that they are having trouble accessing Gmail. We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly. Whenever we encounter blocks in our services we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online.”

This should be interesting to follow because as Google looks to make the world smaller what it ends up doing is truly exposing the areas of the world where personal freedom is not a top priority. Add this to the China battles that Google is encountering and you wonder if these countries believe Google when they say they will “Do no evil”. Not likely.

It was Iran’s political upheaval of last year that put Twitter at the forefront of “citizen reporting” and made the political unrest very vivid and palpable with reports and images that shocked the rest of the world. It is likely that a country like Iran is trying to do whatever it can to keep its control over its citizens. They put it this way

An Iranian official said the move was meant to boost local development of Internet technology and to build trust between people and the government.

Wow, that’s a beaut, huh? Basically, Iran’s move is a continuation of efforts to crack down on political dissenters worldwide on Facebook and Twitter as well. While it is easy for us to look at this and wag our finger, here in the US we can’t fully comprehend just how egregious this kind of activity is. Nothing good can come from this kind of censorship and it is likely Google will not be able to stop it.

So far this ‘suspension’ seems to be working and if successful will hurt efforts by those who are interested in helping the Iranian people.

Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian online activist in Toronto, said he experienced disruptions using Gmail Wednesday afternoon with friends in Iran. Usually, Gmail works without problems, he said. Gmail replaced Yahoo as the most popular email service in Iran in the past year because users believe it is the most secure, or the hardest for government censors to crack, he said.

Well, maybe the government censors couldn’t crack it so they just said they would suspend it. It will be interesting to see how far Google takes this battle and what happens in the end. What are your predictions or thoughts?