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How Iran’s Regime is Profiteering From Internet Censorship

After looting every resource in the country and digging its hands deep into the people’s pockets, the Iranian regime has found a new way to make ill-gotten money by creating a market around state-imposed internet censorship.

On the one hand, internet censorship traders heat up their market by blocking social networks and banning the purchase and sale of censorship circumvention tools such as virtual private networks (VPN). On the other hand, they pocket astronomical profits by selling their own VPNs.

On August 18, the state-run ISNA news agency quoted a member of the Majlis (parliament) who referred to the huge income of the state-backed mafia that is profiteering from internet censorship: “What is the logic behind this decision that, in the current economic conditions, the continuation of internet policies is depositing 500 trillion rials from the people’s pockets to the accounts of internet censorship merchants.”

On August 20, the state-run Ebtekar newspaper reported on the astronomical profits of the government mafia and “internet censorship merchants” and wrote, “With the emergence of the network of internet censorship merchants, billions of rials will easily flow to the pockets of the network of VPN vendors. The amount ranges from 500 to 600 trillion rials, and it cannot be said that the government is not aware of it and doesn’t know who pockets these astronomical sums.”

In the meantime, the Minister of Communications, despite the official decree of “Prohibiting the purchase and sale of VPNs” [Article 753 of the Islamic Penal Code] heated up the market of  internet censorship traders.

On July 13, the state-run Khabar Online website, in a report entitled “Strange statistics and figures of the income of VPN sellers in Iran,” wrote, “Not long ago, the Minister of Communications announced that users should not use free foreign VPNs. This means that the only remaining option is purchasing domestic paid VPNs.”

According to remarks by the regime’s own media, some regime-affiliated organizations earn millions of dollars every day from selling VPNs. On June 12, state-run Jomhuriyeh Eslami (Islamic Republic) newspaper wrote, “By blocking online services and social networks, we are creating a profitable market for VPNs. Unfortunately, such a deceitful market has been formed, and now we are talking about yielding a revenue above 400 to 500 trillion rials from the sale of VPNs from a market with no oversight.”

The ongoing disputes within regime factions reveals other aspects of the merciless looting of the people and the multifold increase in the income of “internet censorship traders.”

On July 12, the state-run Sharq newspaper published a report titled “The financial turnover of VPN vendors is 2 to 3 times the operating income of Iran Telecommunication.” In this report, Sharq wrote, “The censorship of online services in Iran has not only created a capital turnover for the sellers of VPN services, but also made a high yielding market for parallel businesses.” Then, referring to the government mafia of VPN services, it identified the minister as the prime suspect of corruption and the “deceitful market” and wrote, “On the eve of the first anniversary of the beginning of extensive internet censorship in Iran, the head of ministry that is the prime suspect of creating this big black market in the country, has warned users against using ‘free VPN services.’ Having said that, what is the meaning of the communication minister’s implicit recommendation to buy a VPN?”

The intensity of scandalous censorship and profiteering mafia in the current government became so intense that on August 5, the state-run Etemad, in reference to the “uniform censorship government,” wrote, “Currently, the government of censorship is in full gallop and has recently reached a point that it does not even show mercy toward medical professors and technical universities.”

Indeed, all looting and massacre, repression, censorship and profit seeking is done by the regime at the same time. The minds of the people of Iran are still fresh with the memory of the Supreme leader banning the purchase of internationally approved Covid-19 vaccines to promote the unreliable and deadly vaccines produced by the Barkat Pharmaceutical Group under the ownership of “Executive Headquarters of Order of Khomeini,” which is run by himself.

Today, the defiant men and women of this nation have realized that there is no way to save the integrity of life, wealth, and national assets, but by overthrowing the entire regime.

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