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Iran Censorship Efforts Gain Urgency Amid Stuxnet Fears


By Dawn Lim May 31, 2011

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Iran's efforts to disconnect its Internet from the rest of cyberspace have gained urgency amid fears of another Stuxnet worm and other perceived moves by the U.S. government to exert influence through the Web, a report suggests.

Iran watchers said the discovery of Stuxnet put more momentum into an initiative to build up a "national Internet" that would block access to non-Iranian sites, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stuxnet, a computer worm designed to disrupt Iran's nuclear program, is widely believed to have been created by Israel and the United States. Stuxnet's mysterious origins point to, among other places, the CIA., Energy Department research laboratories and Homeland Security, a New York Times investigation suggested.

The State Department's support of tools to circumvent online censorship -- including State Secretary Hillary Clinton's promise to make Internet freedom a foreign policy priority -- have heightened concerns about U.S. attempts to influence Iran through the Internet.

State has appropriated $50 million to help promote Internet freedom since 2008, with $22 million officially spent so far, National Journal reported.

Whether Iran can actually achieve its ambitious censorship aims, warnings of a renewed push should be a reminder that agencies need to tread carefully when playing in today's politicized technological landscapes.


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