More people use anti-censorship tools because of the protests in Iran.
As their government tries to stop protests, more and more Iranians are using tools that help people in blacked-out countries connect to the internet.
Driving the news: Simon Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com, told via email that daily demand for virtual private network (VPN) services in Iran is up over 3,000% compared to before the protests.
- "This is a huge jump, especially since demand was already good before social media was shut down."
Notable: According to data shared exclusively with Axios, Google's Jigsaw subsidiary's open-source Outline tool has been used more in Iran this week.
- Outline makes it possible for third parties to set up secure VPNs that can't be stopped or censored.
- One of these third parties, Nthlink, says that its VPN went from having 40,000 users a day to nearly a million at its peak and is still being used at ten times the normal rate.
What's going on: In September, protests broke out in dozens of Iranian cities over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody for not wearing a head scarf as required by Iranian law.
- According to Context, problems with the internet started when the government blocked social messaging apps like Whatsapp and Instagram. The problems then spread to areas where wireless access and other basic online services were shut down.
- Iran's government already blocks access to most other popular social platforms. As protests grew, the U.S. changed its sanctions so that U.S. technology companies could help Iranians get online.
Between the lines: VPNs and similar tools can help users get around government blocks on certain services, but they can't help when the government blocks basic internet access.
Details: Outline from Google and Jigsaw was already helping Iranians because it is a tool for making and running VPNs.
- Jigsaw says there are about 39,000 Outline-based networks in use around the world and that it is "working to expand access to Outline in-country" in Iran.
- Yasmin Green, CEO of Jigsaw, said in a statement, "As an Iranian, I'm proud to work on tools that give people access to the open web no matter where they are."
The mystery: As protests grew in Iran, Elon Musk said that his Starlink internet service, which is based on satellites, could help, like it has in Ukraine.
- But, as the Intercept and others pointed out, Starlink service needs its own special receivers, and it's unlikely that the Iranian government will let such dishes come into the country.
Flashback: The most recent waves of protests in Iran started in 2009 with a movement against what many people thought was a rigged election. Since then, there have been more protests in 2018 and off and on since.
- The government has tried to stop protesters from using the internet to organize, share information, and record violent acts.
- Since 2009, Iran has been working on a project called the National Information Network to build its own, easier-to-control domestic internet.