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Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Tehran says `error' behind temporary Google 'filtering'

AFP , TEHRAN

Iran yesterday unblocked access to the Google search engine and its Gmail e-mail service after briefly filtering them owing to an "error," the Fars news agency reported.

"Due to an error, the Google site was filtered on Sunday evening but the error was corrected and now Google and its different sites like Gmail can be used," an official from the state-run communications company said.

Earlier Hamid Shahriari, the secretary of Iran's National Council of Information, had confirmed that the sites were being filtered, without providing further explanation.

Iran has tough censorship on cultural products and Internet access, banning thousands of Web sites and blogs containing sexual and politically critical material as well as women's rights and social networking sites.

The rules are applied by Internet service providers who use filtering programs to prevent access to the banned sites.

The programs work by honing in on key words which trigger the blocking of a site, which means that some perfectly anodyne sites are inaccessible as well as more sensitive ones.

The filtering aims to prevent Iranians from accessing "decadent" material posted abroad, a similar goal to the ban on satellite dishes which are subject to period crackdowns.

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