Internet disrupted in Iran amid protests over death of Mahsa Amini

Network data from NetBlocks confirm a near-total disruption disruption to internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in west Iran from the evening of Monday 19 September 2022. The regional telecommunications blackout in and around Sanandaj follows a partial disruption to internet service in Tehran and other parts of the country on Friday when protests first broke out.

The incidents come amid widening protests against the government after the death of Mahsa Amini from Saqqez in Kurdistan province after her arrest by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s strict hijab headscarf rules.

Users have also reported the disconnection or severe slowing of internet service in multiple cities since the first disruption was registered on Friday 16 September 2022. The network disruptions are likely to severely limit the public’s ability to express political discontent and communicate freely.

This class of internet disruption affects connectivity at the network layer and cannot generally be worked around with the use of circumvention software or VPNs.

NetBlocks recommends against the use of network disruptions to counter protests, given their disproportionate impact to fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom assembly.

Recent internet shutdowns and disruptions in Iran

Iran has faced a series of network disruptions in recent years, with some attributed to external factors, and others to state information controls or targeted internet shutdowns. NetBlocks investigations have helped identify the root causes of these network outages.

Notably, in November 2019 Iran shut down internet access nationally amid widespread public protests that were met with deadly force by authorities. In that instance, users gradually regained access as connectivity was selectively brought back after a week of near-total outages.

Further reading:

Developing incident: check back for updates


Methodology

NetBlocks diffscans, which map the IP address space of a country in real time, show internet connectivity levels and corresponding outages. Purposeful internet outages may have a distinct network pattern used by NetBlocks to determine and attribute the root cause of an outage, a process known as attribution which follows detection and classification stages.


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