Iran suspending Google's Gmail, reports say

Iran's government is said to be launching its own national e-mail service

Looking to quell opposition, Iran's government is shutting down Google's Gmail e-mail service within the country, reports said today.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Iranian authorities are trying to silence any anti-government protests before they can get started.

Government opposition groups have called for protests to be held on Thursday, Feb. 11, when the country traditionally celebrates the anniversary of the Islamic Republic.

As part of the anticipatory sweeps, the government has intermittently disrupted Internet and text messaging services. And the Journal reported that Iran's telecommunications agency announced a permanent suspension of Google's Gmail services.

The government is reported to have said it would soon launch a government-run e-mail service for Iranian citizens.

Google told Computerworld the company has heard from Iranian users that they are having problems accessing Gmail.

"We can confirm a sharp drop in traffic, and we have looked at our own networks and found that they are working properly," a Google spokesman said.

"Whenever we encounter blocks in our services, we try to resolve them as quickly as possibly because we strongly believe that people everywhere should have the ability to communicate freely online. Sadly, sometimes it is not within our control," he said.

Technology has been something of a lifeline to the people in Iran in recent months. Last June, during the harsh government crackdown following disputed Iranian elections, Twitter became a key tool for people looking for information about what was happening in Iran, as well as for those trying to get information out.

During the crisis, Iran's government is reported to have blocked or shut down various communication mediums -- phone lines, Facebook, YouTube videos and even text messaging -- but people were still able to send photos and information from Iran in short 140-character bursts.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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