NetBlocks says the outage is the ‘most serious’ since the internet was blocked during the 2019 fuel protests.
According to residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks, Iran has restricted access to social media networks Instagram and WhatsApp during protests over the death of a woman in police custody.
Significant internet outages were also reported across the country, disrupting one of the largest cell phone operators, leaving millions of Iranians offline.
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last week, who was arrested by the vice squad in Tehran for ‘inappropriate clothing’, has sparked a wave of anger over issues of freedom in the Islamic Republic and an economy teetering from sanctions.
At least six protesters have now been killed, as well as a police officer and a member of a pro-government militia, according to Iranian media and officials. However, activists say the death toll is higher.
NetBlocks also reported a “national loss of connectivity” on Iran’s main mobile phone provider and another company’s network.
WhatsApp’s servers were disrupted on multiple ISPs hours after Instagram’s services were blocked, London-based NetBlocks said.
The group’s data shows that internet service in parts of Kurdistan province in western Iran has been almost completely disrupted since Monday, while the capital Tehran and other parts of the country have also experienced disruptions since Friday, when the protests broke out for the first time.
#Iran is now subject to the strictest internet restrictions since the November 2019 massacre.
Mobile networks largely shut down (MCI, Rightel, Irancell – partially)
Regional disruptions observed during protests
Instagram, WhatsApp Limitedhttps://t.co/8cCHIJA2Oi
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) September 21, 2022
Two residents of Tehran and southern Iran said they could only send text and not photos on WhatsApp and Instagram appeared to be completely blocked.
Both platforms are owned by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, and are among the few social media networks still active. NetBlocks said the disruptions were the “worst” since 2019, when the government shut down the internet for about a week to quell fuel protests.
Without internet access, it’s harder for people to post videos on social media to generate support for their cause or get reliable reports on what’s happening.
This month’s unrest has been particularly intense in Amini’s home province in northwestern Kurdistan.
22-year-old Amini lived in Saqqez, Kurdistan, and was in Tehran when she was detained for what Iran’s “morality police” deemed “indecent clothing”, in violation of Iran’s mandatory modest dress code, which was passed shortly after the Islamic State. Revolution were imposed. in 1979.
Authorities say she suffered a stroke and heart attack while in a “support center” and was transferred to a nearby hospital, where she died a few days later.
Amini’s family has denied the Tehran police chief’s claims that she had several pre-existing conditions, such as epilepsy and diabetes.
Social media websites such as TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are routinely blocked in parts of the Islamic Republic, which has some of the strictest internet controls in the world. But tech-savvy residents often use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around the curbs.