Iranian Telecommunications Minister Blocks His Son’s Access to Google
Domestic Search Engines Enable Officials to Censor and Manipulate Results
In an interview broadcast on state-funded TV, Iranian Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi stated that search engines on Iran’s state-controlled domestic internet, the National Information Network, can be manipulated according to the wishes of state officials.
“In our own home, we have to sit down and help our kid search things for homework,” he added. “But today we are a bit more assured because we have blocked Google and installed Parsijoo on the computer and made it the default search engine.”
“The climate and information in the app can be managed to make it wholesome,” he said.
The minister’s statement confirms previous speculation that search engine results presented on the NIN could be manipulated by state agencies.
Jahromi’s assertion also marks the first time an Iranian official has admitted that search engine results on the NIN could be altered by state agencies.
In other words, while Google uses an automated process to search the entire global internet for results, Iranian authorities can handpick which results are displayed by domestic search engines.
Iranian domestic search engines can also direct users to pages that present falsified information or that were made solely to spread state propaganda on an issue.
In other words, if a user in Iran uses a domestic search engine to look for information on a politically sensitive issue, such as the “Girls of Revolution Street” anti-compulsory-hijab movement, they will only be presented with state-approved pages.
The search engine will also not present photos or videos related to the topic, which show-up extensively on foreign search engines such as Google.
In another example, Parsijoo users searching for information related to the February 2018 clashes between Iranian police and members of the Sufi Gonabadi faith are directed to fake websites that look like they are operated by the dervishes but were made to spread state propaganda against the religion.