Mapping internet censorship in Iran

Over 20 million Iranians are online, but they are hampered by one of the strictest censorship regimes in the world. The Iranian government’s web filter uses long blacklists of forbidden URLs and URL keywords to prevent ordinary Iranians from accessing content deemed obscene, profane or seditious. The largest portion of blocked internet content has to do with Politics & Government (40%), followed by Sex & Sexuality (20%).

The Iran Media Program is a research project at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. A collaborative network designed to enhance the understanding of the flow of information in Iran, the IMP is made up of Iranian media scholars and practitioners. We worked with the Iran Media Program to map a complex constellation of leaders and governing bodies involved in Internet censorship in Iran.

We created an infographic in English and Farsi that visualizes the relationships between different policy-making and enforcement bodies that block and filter content for Iranian internet users. The piece spotlights four distinct censorship agencies: the Supreme Council on Cyber Space, the Committee Charged with Determining Offensive Content, the Cyber Police, and the Cyber Army (a pro-government hacker vigilante group). The infographic also highlights the ability of Iran’s young, savvy population to circumvent these myriad blocks and filters to access the global Internet.