Iran blocks Google, Gmail access

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.</p>

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran has restricted the use of search engine Google and its e-mail service Gmail, Iranian officials announced Sunday.

"Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide, and will remain filtered until further notice," an adviser to Iran's public prosecutor's office, Abdul Samad Khoramabadi, said on state television, BBC News reported.

The ban was also announced via mass texts quoting Khoramabadi: "Due to the repeated demands of the people, Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide. They will remain filtered until further notice," the message read, Agence France-Presse reported.

Iran's official reason for the ban is to improve security, Computer Business World reported. However, some citizens think that the real intention is to control access to the web. Iran routinely blocks popular websites. Iran also restricted Google and Gmail in February, just before the March parliamentary elections, the BBC said. 

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In addition, many Iranians don't seem to be bothered at all by the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer that sparked protests across the world, the Guardian reported. Many of the protests against the film in Tehran have in fact been sponsored by the regime. The decision to filter Google has also coincided with government plans to start a new, national internet network. 

"By blocking Gmail/Google, #Iran government punishes its own people over anti-Islam movie. Most Iranians have not seen it/don't care," Golnaz Esfandiari, who blogs about Iran for Radio Free Europe, posted to Twitter.