Iranians lose access to Instagram and WhatsApp

According to Reporters Without Borders, the Iranian government’s decision to restrict access to Instagram and WhatsApp is an unprecedented attack on the right to news and information in Iran. Both Instagram and WhatsApp had been circulating information about a wave of protests initiated by the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the morality police on September 16.

Since the beginning of the protests, the Islamic Republic has imposed numerous internet shutdowns. The shutdown is now complete in western Iran’s Kurdistan province, where Amini was born and where the first protests began. Other major cities, including Tehran, have reported partial internet restrictions.

The government has made contradictory statements about internet censorship. ICT Minister Issa Zarepour insisted he had been misquoted after initially saying on September 21 that internet restrictions could be imposed for security reasons.

However, since 2011, the government has invested in a ‘national Iranian internet’ project that forces Iranians to connect through a network controlled by authorities before accessing content located elsewhere.