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Online discussion

Wednesday, 09. November 2022 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Save in my calendar

Online discussion

Online censorship in Iran – how to empower digital rights of activists on the ground?

The death of Mahsa Jina Amini in police custody has sparked an unprecedented wave of protest in all regions of Iran. For more than four weeks women of all ages alongside men are taking their anger and demands to the streets.  They ask for freedom, dignity, equal rights but as well for a change of the regime. The regime’s violent response has killed more than 200 protesters so far; thousands have been arrested.

Internet and digital technology play a key role in the protests, both as means of communication between protesters as well as an outlet to the world.  Foreign journalists cannot enter Iran, journalists and activists in Iran entirely depend on the internet to communicate and coordinate amongst each other, from city to city, what is going on in their respective areas and to share this with the outside.

The recent shutdowns of mobile internet and the blocking of social media platforms and messaging services can be understood as an extension of the physical violence and repression happening in the streets. For years, the Iranian regime has been working to continuously step up its internet censorship machine. The core element of this project is the development of a national internet that would allow to disconnect the country from the global internet. The United Nations considers government-orchestrated internet shutdowns a violation of human rights.

At which point are the protests now, 8 weeks after they erupted, and which social and ethnic groups are supporting them? What role does online communication play for the protesters? How are Iranian activists manoeuvring the digital space and its limitations? Which implications do sanctions have for the activists in Iran? What is the responsibility of international tech companies in providing secured communication channels? And what can be done to counter the regime’s internet censorship and prevent the looming online isolation of Iranian civil society? We will discuss these and other questions with:

  • Mahsa Alimardani, Senior researcher on freedom of expression online in the MENA region at ARTICLE19)
  • Gissou Nia, Director Strategic Litigation Project at Atlantic Council
  • Felicia Anthonio, Campaign Manager for the #KeepItOn Campaign at Access Now
  • Jan Philipp Albrecht, President of Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Moderation: Bauke Baumann, Senior Policy Advisor at Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

Language: Englisch

The event is organized in cooperation with Access Now

Bauke Baumann, Senior Programme Officer, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
E-Mail:,   Telefon +49(0)285 34 -321

Anmeldung: yes

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Heinrich Böll Foundation - Headquarters Berlin
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