When videos taken from cheap camcorders were posted on Youtube of protestors in Tehran; and twitter was burning with feeds from Iran informing everyone about the impending “Green” revolution – it seemed (to me at least) that the information age had come to the rescue of Iran! And that somehow after over 100 years of fighting, Iranians might, just might, finally get closer to a society that is free and democratic. I even hoped that things would get so good that I would sell everything I have here in the U.S. and go back – and help re-invent a new Iran.
But it was not to be.
The problem, my friends, is that technology in the hands of evil has become a means of suppression and domination. The dream that the Information age would liberate the world has proved elusive in some places. It is elusive because if evil forces master information science – the net result is a new age of national suppression.
And the regime in Iran, and its evil Hench men the IRGC has done just that.
To give you an idea of what can be done, consider this: Today in the United States, every phone conversation is monitored by super computers within the National Security Agency. All content on all websites are mined by other supercomputers within the NSA. Every facebook page is hacked, every social media site is hacked - by the federal government and they have a full profile of you, your family, your friends, your contacts, etc. etc. But, and this is a BIG BUT…those that hold and manage all these information systems are under democratic control; and must answer in the end, to the people via Senators, Representatives and other public officials the people of this country elect. (At least this is what Americans believe; and I see no censorship or arrests to prove otherwise to me).
But, those same tools, in the hands of evil – the IRGC – can be turned against the people and used to identify opponents, and track their activities. In the case of Iran this process continues to lead to mass execution of opponents of the regime.
We have all read with great interest news of recent purchases by the IRGC of British software to monitor telecom conversations; Chinese equipment to route calls through their supercomputers, German equipment from Siemens and Finnish equipment from Nokia …The IRGC continues to purchase sophisticated monitoring technology for phones, and the internet. And has developed core competence in the management and operation of systems that track opponents.
Ironically it was the very same batch of religious characters that out foxed the Shah’s regime and secret police infrastructure (the SAVAK) who , used audio cassettes to spread the message of Khomeini (then in exile in Paris), back home to Iran.
The regime in Iran has learnt from their counter parts in the Pentagon and the American defense establishment how to conduct information warfare. The IRGC has a very significant cyberspace battalion now.
The regime in Iran now operates its own satellite TV stations and even secretly funds some of the so called “opposition” stations here In the U.S. It now has its own international (English language) news stations (PressTV) that is based in Britain that provides their spin on international news for global consumption.The regime in Iran fully understands that foreign relations now, has become a public relations exercise. Western media pump out one big dose of misinformation and then they (the regime in Iran) respond with another batch of lies. It’s all a big game. And we are the victims.
Information warfare has really become the dark side of the Information Age. The vulnerability of Iranian society to Information Warfare attack is huge and a direct result of the spread of information technology.As the cost of information technology falls, a greater number of Iranian government agencies and nongovernment organizations (MKO/MEK/PMOI) present an ongoing threat to freedom and democracy in Iran. The current explosion of media technology is exponentially more of a burden for the people than the past.Who do you believe? Which communication system can you trust? There is now something like 40 opposition satellite TV stations, and a whole barrage of Iranian government funded communication channels. Israel funds a whole barrage of separatist TV and radio stations designed to foment separatist tendencies inside Iran. There are all these foreign news stations, BBC, VOA, CNN, CBC, … It’s all scattered, traumatic and tumultuous.
There are no direct lines of communication between people, no single type of communication makes unified national experience. Marshaling public opinion for national purposes like a revolution is even more difficult than ever. Where do you start? What do you do?
Communication has long been at the heart of leadership – now there is no simple way to communicate with the people of Iran; and whatever you do, every piece of it is monitored and in the end “managed” by the government of Iran. By management I mean they either arrest a blogger, or pump out a whole slew of counter information…
In a free and open society like the U.S. technology can be empowering and ultimately lead to huge leaps in prosperity and improvements in public debate and discourse. In the market place for ideas, technology can be very empowering for the people of a nation. But in the hands of an evil government, it can be totally debilitating. Technology has now diminished the nation of Iran; and is only empowering the mullahs.
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