Iran has unblocked access to Gmail as of October 1; Google’s popular worldwide email service was placed under a HTTPS block on September 24. But while Iranian Internet users can now use Gmail securely, the Iranian government has announced plans to enact stricter censorship of YouTube. Mohammed Reza Miri of Iran’s Telecommunications Ministry told the Mehr news agency that the Gmail blockage was an unintended consequence of a new censorship regime for YouTube. “Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services. We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary […] We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible. That is why the telecommunications ministry is seeking a solution to fix the problem to block YouTube under the HTTPS protocol while leaving Gmail accessible. That will soon happen.”
Surveillance of users’ Internet activities is much easier when the HTTPS protocol is not used, and YouTube video dissemination played a crucial role in the 2009 Iranian protests. Tehran has been engaged in fitful efforts to create a national intranet that would replace the Internet locally and be subject to extensive government tracking.