To London, yesterday, to see a small but fine exhibition by @small_media on what it is like to live with Internet censorship in Iran:
It was eye-opening to experience stories of a country where blogging can lead to death, where to have internet access faster than 128-Kbit (note: kilobits) requires a special government warrant, where in order to use a cybercafe requires the cafe owner to take a copy of your government ID-card, and where so many sites are blocked.
This latter we tested first-hand via a couple of Macs connected remote-desktop style to Windows systems in Iran, and just trying URL suggestions from a semi-random selection of Post-It Notes demonstrated the arbitrariness of the blocks – the Guardian and NPR are not blocked but neither is the United States Nazi Party; however various Iran-specific news sites and teeny little websites dealing in Gay/Lesbian issues are.
So we had a little competition: the post-it notes for every blocked websites were hung on a network of strings suspended from the ceiling, and the team which discovered the greatest number of blocked websites won some nougat.
The strings filled up quite fast.
Also web-usage was a bit like 1999 all-over-again; forget about HD video when… you… are… still… waiting… for… a… 1024… by… 768… image… to… load.
And very fucked up.
In fact the only positive thing that can be said for the Iranian Internet Censorship Regime is that their mandatory data retention period is only 6 months, between a half and a quarter of that which is proposed in the UK/Europe.