• 21 January 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • Human Rights in Iran

Secretary Clinton on Internet Freedom and Iran

In what was touted as a major policy speech announcing the State Department’s new Internet freedom initiative, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today committed the US to a broad new effort to advance and protect the right of all people to access the Internet freely.

In her speech, Clinton highlighted the important role that cyber communications have played in Iran, describing online organizing as “a critical tool for advancing democracy, and enabling citizens to protest suspicious election results.”

Clinton’s comments on Iran also focused on  reports of Iranian government efforts to intimidate Iranians abroad, as well as the death of Neda Soltan:

In the demonstrations that followed Iran’s presidential elections, grainy cell phone footage of a young woman’s bloody murder provided a digital indictment of the government’s brutality. We’ve seen reports that when Iranians living overseas posted online criticism of their nation’s leaders, their family members in Iran were singled out for retribution. And despite an intense campaign of government intimidation, brave citizen journalists in Iran continue using technology to show the world and their fellow citizens what is happening in their country. In speaking out on behalf of their own human rights the Iranian people have inspired the world.

And their courage is redefining how technology is used to spread truth and expose injustice.

Clinton framed Internet freedom as a human rights issue, noting that the right to free expression and to receive information is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Article 19 of the Declaration states that all people “have right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Posted By Jamal Abdi

    14 Responses to “Secretary Clinton on Internet Freedom and Iran”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Yes Mrs. Clinton, but you left out the fact that these very same Iranians communicating over the internet are being forced to use pirated copies of OS and web browser software, all because of the grossly unfair US sanctions against the Iranian people.

    “have right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”- Mrs. Clinton.

    Do so in America with perspectives critical of US Middle East policy and Israel (particularly on military subjects), and you run a very real risk of covert law enforcement investigation and placement on the terrorist watch list. Ask me- I know.

  2. Rob says:

    Pirouz, as your honestly comparing being on a watch list in the US for your political opinions, to being on a watch list for the same in Iran?????

  3. Iranian-American says:

    Your passion for the horrible injustices imposed on the Iranian people is quite commendable. I think we can all agree that being forced to use pirated copies of Windows is at the top of that list.

    Mrs. Clinton probably left out that fact because she feels that it is insignificant compared to what she called a “young woman’s bloody murder”. Pssssh.. she obviously has never been forced to use a pirated copy of Windows, or download a freely available web browser like Firefox.

    Trust me- I know. Once I pirated software. Wow, talk about excruciating. I felt violated and abused. Almost like being raped. In fact, sometimes I browse the web with Firefox just to experience the horrible injustices imposed on my fellow Iranian citizens.

  4. Iranian-American says:


    Why wouldn’t he make such a comparison? You know what happens when you go on the terrorist watch list, also known as the No Fly List?!? If you are on that list, you are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in and out of the US! Wow. Now that is scary.

    Comparing that to what has happened to Iranians for holding opinions that their government does not agree with (e.g. the account below) is not in the least bit ridiculous.

    “The second story is that of Saeedeh Pouraghayi — similar to the story of Taraneh Mousavi in which the only daughter of a family was arrested, taken into custody and later rashly buried as her family contemplated why her body had to be burned with acid.”

    Not that I condone Pirouz being on the terrorist watch list, but perhaps it would have been better if he applied himself more to providing in depth analysis of the tragic breakdown of law and order in Iran, and less to political agitation.

  5. Rob 1 says:

    Sargard Pirouz says:

    “…that these very same Iranians communicating over the internet are being FORCED to use pirated copies of OS and web browser software…”

    I knew it. Pirouz is a lost traveler from an alternate reality. That’s why alot of his remarks make completely no-sense to most observers. I mean, FORCED to pirate? And not just Windows OS, but forced to pirate free web browsers, free linux, software, messengers, movies and music……..only one could hope that Iranians will eventually be saved by US copyright laws. One day.

    Poor Pirouz and his grandiose delusions of being on the watchlist of a secret government task force for his dangerous political views and military expertise. Thankfully, now I can fly on a plane without fear.

  6. Rob 1 says:


    It really sickens me as well, that Iran was one of the top downloaders of firefox 3. But, that’s how some must survive when faced with sanctions.

    But in all seriousness, Pirouz should be happy to know that there is a bill called the H.R. 4301: Iranian Digital Empowerment Act which is in committee.

  7. Eric says:

    Poor Iranians, being forced to download pirated software. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Downloading copyrighted material illegally is rampant in America. If my biggest problem in life is that I am forced to illegally download Windows or other software, than I am a lucky person! How anyone with access to free media could actually defend the dictator and his repressive policies is beyond me.

  8. Iranian-American says:

    Well Eric, you should be comforted by the fact that very few people with access to free media defend the Iranian governments repressive policies. Pirouz is quite literally one of the only such people I have come across that does defend the Iranian government. To his defense, he claims that is not what he is doing. I’ll leave that to reader to decide.

    Furthermore, many people, especially Iranians both inside and outside of the country, including myself to some extent, who were once inclined to support the Iranian government are now joining in condemnation of Iranian government.

    It is my guess that it is this sort of emerging unity against the Iranian government from free, open-minded and well-educated people from around that world, that is leading to these absurd and illogical outbursts from the few regime supporters. I can’t help but feel a sense of growing frustration from such people.

    It is unfortunate, but at the same time amusing. It is funny that someone would suggest that a student who is sentenced to 8.5 years for expressing certain views should have spent more time studying rather than engaging in political agitation and then complain about being put on the No Fly List (I know Terrorist Watch List sounds scarier ;)). These little things must make anyone chuckle. I still like the middle-east football theory. 🙂

  9. Pirouz says:


    This is about Syria, but it equally applies to Iran.

  10. Alireza says:

    Pirouz = Mark Pyruz = Sargord Pirouz (of Iranian.com fame).

    The question is whether Pirouz and other such Fellow Travelers of the murderous IRI line are freelancers expressing their own opinions or working in a more formal capacity for the Ministry of Intelligence or other organs of the IRI.

  11. Rob 1 says:

    Sargord Pirouz is definitely doing this full time. He posts on a variety of sites, and is always the first to comment. His latest target was an article on iranian.com in regards to the Larijani racial slur. His method of attack was to show a video of young drunk israelis calling Obama the n-word, thus invalidating the remark by an IRI official. Well played agent..

  12. Saman says:

    It is the right of all peoples, regardless of race,religion, ethnicity, creed, values or beliefs to live in a society that values the free flow and honest exchange of information. That is one of the cornerstones of Democratic thought, sometimes it works well, and other times it does not.

    The larger question is, what does this statement mean for Iran-US relations? Since for the past 30 years any remark made by the US has been spun by the Iranian regime as ‘meddling’ in their affairs. And some of it has been true, as we all know US-Iran relations has been less than pleasant the past few decades. While this may be taken as meddling, it is not. Meddling would be much more. It is right of US and other countries to speak up about the freedom of speech especially in this digital age where with the click of a button one should have access to vast resources of information not available just 10 or 15 years ago. Globalization is taking effect, and anyone who thinks they can maintain a repressive society which shuns the internet and the exchange of ideas, is now on the wrong side of history.

  13. rasselghan says:

    H.clinton says internet for iran but I have many problems with my android phone g1 to dwnlod apps specially from google market for my phone in iran
    Apps some voapnn.persian language,and other apps to download.

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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