What effect has digital technology had on efforts to defend and improve press and broadcasting freedom in Iran?
As one of the case studies for our main question, we will examine the Islamic Republic of Iran. First, we’ll see just what press and broadcasting freedom is like here.
Iran is a prime example of suppression of the press by the authorities. For many years now the strictly controlled media has only been able to do as the government says. But when it is that very government who needs to be exposed for the brutal treatment of the citizens, who else is there to get the message out?
While the Constitution provides for limited freedom of the press, this is often not allowed at all. The 2009 Press Law is vaguely construed to allow the government leeway to imprison journalists; the broadcast press is highly regulated. Soon after the 2009 election more than one hundred journalists were arrested, and by February 2010, sixty of them were still imprisoned.
In early 2010, an ominous statement was made by the commander of the police:
“[A]nyone who collaborates with foreign media either by sending pictures or articles to them is monitored and will be dealt with as soon as possible”.
Following the controversial election in June 2009, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the alleged voting fraud which took President Ahmedinejad to a second term.
In the run up to, and during the aftermath of the election the national media were impotent. Citizens protested the controversial elections, and the national guard responded with force. People were dying, and it seemed no-one would ever find out.