Elon Musk announced that SpaceX has about 100 Starlink terminals active in Iran. SpaceX activated Starlink services in Iran in September, supporting the United States’ stance on providing Iranians with internet freedom and the free flow of information.
Unlike Ukraine, SpaceX does not have the cooperation of the Iranian government to expand Starlink services in the country. In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov have actively supported Starlink connections during the war with Russia.
In contrast, the Iranian government is actively attempting to limit its citizens’ Internet access. The United States government has taken a stand against the Iranian government’s decision regarding internet access for its people. Secretary Antony Blinken tweeted in September, “We will continue to advance internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people by issuing a general license to provide greater access to digital communications to counter the Iranian government’s censorship.
Some people who have received Starlink kits in Iran have been able to report that the service does work in the country. Manoto TV posted a video of Starlink equipment working in Ahvaz in October. A video of the Starlink equipment being tested in Ahvaz has been published on social media.
Shutting down the internet in Iran is proving extremely difficult. It seems that many Iranians are uniting to preserve their freedom to access the internet. Even the Prosecutor General of Iran has admitted that it may be impossible to shut down the internet. Prosecutor General Mohamed Jaafar Montezeri fully supports the government limiting access to the Internet. However, during his efforts to maintain the government’s Internet policy, Montezeri concluded that Internet censorship was ineffective.
We shut down a VPN today, and it was promptly replaced by another supplied overseas. The only solution is to shut down the Internet completely, which is neither possible nor what the authorities want to do, he told Iran International. Montazeri revealed that local businesses are selling software that provides VPNs so that Iranians can access websites that are blocked in the country. The kicker is that most of those local businesses are allegedly owned by people close to the regime in power.
The government’s Internet censorship is inspired by the ideology of an ongoing hybrid war and is a watchword used by Iranian officials and commanders. Montazeri explained that the main perpetrators of this hybrid war are the Israelis, the Americans, the Germans, and the French. Hybrid warfare is waged through political cyber campaigns, fake news, and diplomatic actions designed to undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran.