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Iran unblocks Gmail but still wants to keep out YouTube

Gmail is back online for Iranian citizens, but the government aims to make sure YouTube stays off limits.

People in Iran can apparently once again access their Gmail accounts after the service was blocked last week.

Both Gmail and the secure HTTPS version of Google were persona non grata in the country on September 24 after an Iranian official named Abdolsamad Khoramabadi announced that "Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide until further notice." Khoramabadi is the secretary of a committee in Iran that examines the Internet for content considered illegal or criminal, according to the Iranian Labor News Agency.

The action was reportedly taken in response to an amateur movie posted on YouTube considered critical of the Prophet Muhammad among Muslims, leading to widespread protests.

Though Gmail and YouTube both seemed to be targeted, another Iranian official indicated that Gmail was not blocked on purpose, according to AFP News.

Mohammad Reza Miri, a member of the telecommunications ministry committee that filters Internet content, said today that the ban on Gmail was an accidental result of trying to block YouTube.

"Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services," Miri told the Mehr news agency. "We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary."

Either way, a ban on YouTube is still a priority for the Iranian government..

"We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible," Miri added, according to AFP. "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."

Google's Transparency Report page shows which services are blocked in which countries around the world.