Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

Iran’s government might not have completely cut off Internet access within its borders, as have other governments suffering from political unrest. However, new evidence shows that the Data Communication Company of Iran (DCI) has been manipulating the overall flow of traffic to the country, according to Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, a company based in Chelmsford, MA, that provides network security and analysis for many Internet service providers and large businesses.

Although Labovitz has no information directly from Iran, he has based his conclusions about Iranian traffic on data collected from more than 100 Internet service providers that together allow Arbor Networks to form a picture of global Web traffic.

Upstream traffic from six providers that typically service Iran shows a sharp decline after the elections on June 13. Credit: Arbor Networks












This graph zooms in on traffic at the time of the outage following Iran’s elections. Credit: Arbor Networks

Labovitz found that on June 13, the day after elections, Iranian traffic fell off almost completely. Traffic came back a few hours later, he writes, though just a little. By June 16, Labovitz says, it was back to about 70 percent of normal.

Labovitz writes,

So what is happening to Iranian traffic?

I can only speculate. But DCI’s Internet changes suggest piecemeal migration of traffic flows. Typically off the shelf / inexpensive Internet proxy and filtering appliances can support 1 Gbps or lower. If DCI needed to support higher throughput (say, all Iranian Internet traffic), then redirecting subsets of traffic as the filtering infrastructure comes online would make sense.

Unlike Burma, Iran has significant commercial and technological relationships with the rest of the world. In other words, the government cannot turn off the Internet without impacting business and perhaps generating further social unrest. In all, this represents a delicate balance for the Iranian government and a test case for the Internet to impact democratic change.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Web, censorship, Iran, Iran election, Web traffic patterns

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »