Iranians cut off from Internet again

Millions lose access to e-mail and social networks for the second time in two weeks, Reuters reports.

Iranians suffered a wide spread Internet outage today, the second disruption of in the past 10 days to leave millions without access to e-mail and social networks.

The latest disruption blocked access to all encrypted International sites outside the country that operate on Secure Sockets Layer protocol, Reuters reports.

"E-mail, proxies, and all the secure channels that start with 'https' are not available," a Tehran-based technology expert told Reuters. "The situation regarding accessing these Web sites is even worse than last week because the VPNs are not working."

Many Iranians use proxy servers over Virtual Private Networks to circumvent government efforts to block access to foreign news sites and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The latest outage comes less than two weeks before planned parliamentary elections next month and less than two weeks after Iranians lost access to Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo e-mail. As in that instance, the government has not yet made an official statement regarding the disruption.

Iran's information minister told the Islamic Republic News Agency in January that a firewalled national Internet would soon become operational but no specifics were given as to when that would happen. The creation of such a vast "intranet" has worried cyber activists in Iran because it would give the government an advantage in its cyber cat-and-mouse battle with opponents.

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