On Monday evening, Iranians found that national web filters blocking access to Facebook and Twitter had gone down. The blocks have been in place for four years, in an attempt to hamper the organizational capabilities of anti-government protesters.
Was this the work of new president Hassan Rouhani, a relative liberal who had promised to cut down on censorship? Observers certainly suspected a momentous shift in policy:
Is Iran's Berlin Wall of internet censorship crumbling down? I am tweeting from Tehran from my cell without restrictions.—
Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) September 16, 2013
However, it appears this wasn’t quite the thaw people thought it might be.
On Tuesday, some people reported the block was back up, and the state news agency Mehr quoted Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the head of Iran’s filtering and monitoring committee, as saying the incident was the result of a technical problem on the ISPs’ side.
“The lack of a filter on Facebook last night was apparently due to technical problems and the technological committee is investigating this issue,” Khoramabadi said (as translated by Israel’s Haaretz). “We are investigating to see which of these [internet providers] has done this.”
Sorry, Iranians – looks like it’s back to VPNs and other block-bypassing mechanisms for you (for now at least).