Iran has summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to court over privacy concerns involving WhatsApp and Instagram. He won’t go, of course, because the U.S. and Iran do not have an extradition treaty. And because the summons is ludicrous. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.
While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called for more Internet freedom, that push hasn’t yet caused systemic change in the country. That result isn’t too surprising given the dynamics regarding censorship in the country. Iran heavily censors the Internet, including Facebook. WhatsApp and Instagram are to be banned as well.
What most people don’t realize is that despite being president, Rouhani has very little influence or power when it comes to reforming policies governing social media, censorship and Internet freedom. There are many different entities and committees involved in the decision-making process, and the disagreements among these groups — along with their decentralized, complex and convoluted way of making decisions — make it difficult for anyone to make a difference.
So despite public statements in favor of a more relaxed Internet policy, Iran’s formal rulings remain restrictive, forcing many in the country to use tools to get around imposed censorship.
Iran, with more than 70 million citizens, isn’t a small nation, and it isn’t the only one working to censor the Internet. Russia and Pakistan have come under fire recently for censoring Twitter, through the company itself, in their nations.
Conservative social and political policies mix poorly with free expression.