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25th Nov 2017

Focus

EU to move against Iran satellite, internet censorship

The European Union is on Monday (22 March) set to announce it intends to take action to "put an end" to satellite jamming and internet censorship in Iran.

Foreign ministers from EU member states meeting in Brussels will issue a declaration that notes with "grave concern" the measures taken by Iranian authorities in recent months to prevent its citizens from accessing certain content via TV, satellite, mobile phone and the internet.

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"Deliberate interference by jamming of satellite broadcasting has affected numerous radio and TV services, including European services, transmitted by [French operator] Eutelsat," reads the draft document, seen by EUobserver. It is expected to be confirmed by the ministers and later officially adopted by EU premiers and presidents at the spring EU summit later in the week.

The BBC's Persian service and Germany's Deutsche Welle have also been the object of the Islamic Republic's high-tech censors.

"In addition, the Iranian authorities regularly prevent their citizens from freely accessing, communicating and sharing information on the internet, and restrict or block mobile telecommunications."

The resolution notes that complaints made via the International Telecommunications Union, a Geneva-based UN agency, have been ignored by the country.

The bloc will call on Tehran to cease such jamming and internet censorship "immediately". If Iran does not respond, the EU "is determined to pursue these issues and to act with a view to put an end to this unacceptable situation."

What precise sanctions the EU could take are not spelt out in the declaration, although it is thought that exports of some electronic and telecommunications equipment from European manufacturers could be halted.

The statement will also recognise more generally the growing problem of attempts by authorities in many countries to curtail access to content available via new telecommunications technologies.

"Restrictions and limitations on the use of new technologies have emerged as a key challenge to the respect for human rights in many parts of the world, undermining the potential the technologies have in promoting freedom of expression."

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