Iran is setting up a national Stop sign for Google and Gmail.Internet censorship has been somewhat of a hot topic even here in the United States. A few months ago Wikipedia blacked out its service for a few hours as a protest against overbearing censorship.

Several companies joined in with protests to match Wikipedia’s, and ultimately their online voice was heard. A very different tale is being told in a very different place of the world however.

As it prepares to strengthen its own gateways to access the internet, the Iranian Government has blocked internet users within its boundaries from accessing both Google and Gmail. Iranian web traffic already has to pass through a filter that looks for banned content and these changes seem to advance government censorship even further.

What if Google was shut down everywhere?

Imagine for a second that Google and Gmail were shut down everywhere for even just a day. I doubt Bing or Yahoo would mind it all that much, but the rest of us would be pretty hosed.

I’m pretty much the only person I know that still uses Yahoo mail, and even then I still have a few Gmail accounts under my name. The vast majority of us already made the switch to Gmail a long time ago.

Now imagine if the government decided to block our access to our own email accounts. How well do you think that would go over?

I imagine things would look a little like this within the first hour:A sure fire way to cause massive panic: get rid of Google.

Fair to compare?

While it seems a little ridiculous to compare internet freedom in the United States with Iran, it is interesting to look at the Iranian Government’s motives for the Google black out.

While there is some debate on the issue, the Iranian Government claims it took down the sites in order to beef up its own cyber security. Within the past two years both its nuclear program and its nuclear energy group suffered cyber-attacks.

If our infrastructure suffered serious cyber threats that we weren’t able to protect against, would we be so far behind to increase governmental control on internet security? Where would we as a nation draw that line?

Now I know there is no chance Google will ever be blocked from the public but I imagine internet censorship would be brought right back to the forefront of our national debate. Even if no such crisis ever occurs, I doubt we have heard the last of the internet censorship argument on our side of the world.

photo credit: Eneas via photopin cc
photo credit: Great Beyond via photopin cc

Scott Sundblom