National Post (comment)
June 30, 2009
Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski
Recently, the Canadian envoy to Iran was called in and admonished by Iranian officials for contributing to the destabilitization of the regime because of support for social networking tools, like Twitter and Facebook. The envoy must have scratched his head in puzzlement.
The Iranians’ furor was ignited by the work of our company, Psiphon, which is based in Canada and has actively engaged in a campaign to help Iranians bypass their country’s filters and exercise basic human rights of access to information and freedom of speech. On average, one Iranian per minute has signed up to our “right-2know” nodes — customized websites pushed into Iran that contain access to BBC Persian and Radio Farda — and more than 15,000 have used our service since the crisis began.
However, we have received no support from the Canadian government — not even a note of thanks. As far as we know, the Canadian government does not even have a cyberspace strategy (of promoting access to information and freedom of speech) about which a country like Iran would be irritated. As Canadians, we wish it did.
Psiphon’s activities in Iran are not the first of their kind to generate intense media interest. Just a few months ago, a related project of ours, the Information Warfare Monitor, published a report called Tracking GhostNet that discovered a cyber-espionage system infecting government ministries and embassies in more than 103 countries. The case was splashed across the front pages of newspapers, and produced a powerful curiosity about cyber security around the world that continues unabated.