Tehran, July 14 (ANI): Iran has stepped up online censorship by upgrading the filtering system that enables the Islamic regime to block access to thousands of websites it deems inappropriate for Iranian users.
The move comes one month after the United States announced plans to launch new services facilitating internet access and mobile phone communications in countries with tight controls on freedom of speech, a decision that infuriated Tehran's regime and prompted harsh reactions from several Iranian officials, The Guardian reports.
The upgrade had at first appeared as a relaxation of the censorship machine.
Iran's online community said on Monday that filtering was temporarily lifted for the entire country, giving users access to banned websites such as Twitter and Facebook. But hopes for an end to censorship were dashed when news agencies reported later in the day that the respite was due to the process of making the upgrade.
More than 5 million websites are filtered in Iran. Media organisations including the Guardian, BBC and CNN are blocked, though access to the New York Times website is allowed.
On Google, the Farsi equivalents for words such as "condom", "sex", "lesbian" and "anti-filtering" are filtered out.
Iran is believed to be worried about the influence of the internet and especially social networking websites as pro-democracy activists across the Middle East use them to promote and publicise their movements. (ANI)