Technology giants to support information flow in Iran

afp_iran_demo_twitter_18jun09_210In the aftermath of the recent Iranian election, the protests that followed, and the ensuing violence, the availability of accurate information is becoming rarer, and more crucial.  Hotels in Tehran have been locked down to prevent foreign journalists from reporting anything to the outside world.  Live video footage posted to YouTube and messages sent through Twitter by protesters and people amidst the violence have become important sources of news for people within the country, and around the world.  Unfortunately, the people in power in Iran have realised this, and done their best to shut down mobile and internet networks, and it has escalated to the point where anyone seen openly carrying a laptop, mobile phone, or camera runs the risk of being attacked by paramilitary groups.

Internet giant Google has pushed forward their release of Google Translate in Persian, or Farsi, which is the major language of Iran.  This will hopefully make more international information and news available to people within Iran, and Persian speakers around the world, as well as allowing outsiders to get an idea of what is happening inside the country.

The Twitter service is playing an arguably more important role on the ground, as protesters are using it to organise demonstrations as well as spread news to the outside world.  It has even been recognised as crucial by the US State Department, who urged the company to delay a planned upgrade in order for service to continue uninterrupted in Iran.

If you’re interested in knowing more about what’s happening, I found quite a good summary on Reddit, there’s a lot of information in the news, and there are plenty of Twitter, news, and blog feeds being updated all the time.  As well as wanting to keep up-to-date with the actual situation, I’m fascinated by the changing roles of media, technology, and communication.  Is the blocking of a single website or internet service tantamount to a human rights issue these days?