Although still working towards the creation of a restrictive national or “Halal” Internet, Iran continues to develop its Internet infrastructure for economic reasons. With 49 percent Internet penetration and 36 million Internet users, according to official figures, it is one of the region’s most connected countries. And according to Tehran chamber of commerce figures, Iran’s imports of mobile phones and IT equipment from China and the United Arab Emirates totalled nearly 4 billion dollars last year (2.3 billion from China and 1.6 billion from UAE). Nonetheless, the authorities block many news sites, mostly those that support the reformists but also conservative ones. The grounds given are often the same – anti-government propaganda, immoral content, attacks on national security or sacrilege. The reasons are above all political and it should not be forgotten that it is easier to access porn sites than independent news sites in Iran. According to the government media, more than 50 online activists are currently detained and 20 are serving sentences ranging from one to eight years in prison. Most of these arrests are carried out by the Revolutionary Guards, with whom the justice system cooperates at Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s bidding.
Iran is ranked #173 over 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.