How Iran Shut Off The Internet Amid Protests NBC News Now


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for five long days almost everyone in Iran was completely disconnected from the outside world as protests flared up across the country the government imposed a nationwide internet blackout the largest one in the country's history so how did this all unfold I'm Emmanuel and this is verified it's November 15th in Mashhad the second-largest city in Iran people are taking to the streets to protest the latest increase in fuel prices a local resident snapped this photo at around a p.m. local time the data on the photo confirms his location the protest is taking place on this highway and traffic is blocked for almost five miles he takes this video before heading home the protest continued late into the night this is netbooks they're an organization that monitors Internet freedom around the world they first noticed outages in Mashhad and several other cities where protests were happening networks told us these disruptions were localized and meant to discourage protesters from organizing people were angry the government had just announced that they were gonna start rationing and they were going to increase fuel prices by at least 50 percent president rouhani explained that the money from the price hike was going to be used to help the poorest families those who have been hit the hardest by the country's economic struggles US sanctions have really strangled their iranian economy the country's faces a high inflation rate devalued currency and a shrinking economy so the fuel increase was simply the last drop protests continued to spread it's now Saturday morning November 16th and were in Tehran a woman gets in her car to run some errands she wants to avoid traffic so she opens up ways a popular navigation app she notices that people are using the app to coordinate protests this user says the protests are starting in his old and this one is encouraging people to leave their cars in the middle of the road that's until the government brings down the price of gas our woman decides to follow one message it takes her to Satori Expressway it's a highway that runs from northern to southern Tehran she shoots this video and just like in Mashhad protesters are leaving their cars parked on the road they want to create roadblocks and disrupt traffic she shoots another video and sends it to a relative a few hours after she sends it she goes silent soon after Netflix tweets that all overruns largest mobile networks have gone offline most of Iran is now completely disconnected from the outside world bond is no stranger to internet disruption in the past they've used techniques like bandwidth throttling which is when they keep the internet on but it's painfully slow to keep protesters from communicating with each other and because of US sanctions that prevent companies like Apple or Google to serve Iranian customers and because of the country's own censorship people in Iran have been accustomed to using workarounds to access social platforms but also the Internet but this shutdown was very different and I wanted to understand why so I spoke to moxa Anna Magnani she's studying Iranian political communications at Oxford University so she knows a lot about this stuff and here's what she had to say it took 24 hours or the nationwide shutdowns to occur typically when we've seen protests in the past and 2017-2018 it took a few days before they started actually doing disconnections and it was just on various different ISPs and it wasn't nationwide and all at once so how is it that the government can actually block internet access well we found out that there are two principal entries those are called exchanges that connect the country to the global Internet and those are now both controlled by the Iranian government but maxy knows more about the development of the National Information Network in Iran and so this is really the nationalization of Internet infrastructure which has contributed to their ability to disconnect from international connections while maintaining you know a internal network that functions so all of this means that Iran is now capable of effectively disconnecting their entire country from the outside world and it remains to be seen how this is going to be used in the future you hey NBC News viewers thanks for checking out our YouTube channel subscribe by clicking on that button down here and click on any of the videos over here to watch the latest interviews show highlights and digital exclusives thanks for watching