internet shutdowns elections

Iran is voting, the #KeepItOn coalition is watching

Authorities in Iran must respect and promote human rights, and ensure open internet access for all, as the country heads to vote at the June 18 presidential elections.

“We know Iran’s history of human rights abuses,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “We know that internet shutdowns are a well-used tool in Iran’s censorship arsenal. But we’re calling on authorities to recalibrate in 2021, and ensure the internet and digital communication platforms are open and accessible during this year’s election.”

Iran’s history of censorship through internet throttling and shutdowns, and the targeted blocking of social media apps, spans more than a decade, tainting elections, and stifling protestOver the last month, Iranian journalists and activists have posted threats they received from security forces, outlining that criticism of Ebrahim Raisi — head of judiciary and presidential candidate — during the presidential election period will not be tolerated.  

Through an open letter, the #KeepItOn coalition and human rights groups from across the globe call on authorities in Iran to:

  • Refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to social media platforms and messaging apps, and publicly assure the people of Iran that the internet will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure across Iran throughout the election and thereafter;
  • Stop blocking and tampering with VPN connections, a necessary and sometimes ubiquitous tool for access to the censored internet in Iran;
  • Refrain from impeding access to high-quality, secure, and unrestricted internet for everyone throughout the election period and thereafter; and
  • Order internet service providers operating in the country to inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and to take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of service they receive.

Iran is just one of many countries with the potential to hit the kill switch during elections. See who else the #KeepItOn coalition is monitoring.

Read the open letter.