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Ahmadi Moghadam hinted that the new restriction scheme would allow Iranians to have limited access to social networks, without blocking them completely. “Smart control of social networks is better than filtering them completely,” he said, without elaborating. These tactics are a sign of a more sophisticated approach to the issue of censorship, one which leaves room for surveillance and information gathering on potential threats.

Though Iran does have a history of violent repression of bloggers and online activists, including the murder of blogger Sattar Beheshti while in police custody, their new approach to the issue of censorship demonstrates the high stakes of the struggle over the internet.

There is speculation that Behesti himself was caught after being under surveillance by Iran’s cyber police. His last letter recounts threats he received from the cyber police in regards to the statements he had made on his blog which were critical of the regime...