The plight of the Iranian people in their Woman, Life, Freedom protests has shone a brighter light than ever on the importance of access to reliable information, free from blocks, free of borders.
Amid heightened restrictions on Internet access, Iranians’ use of VPNs has risen over 3,000 percent in the previous month. "Daily demand for virtual private network (VPN) services in Iran is up over 3,000% compared to before the protests," Simon Migliano, the head of research at Top10VPN, told Axios, adding that "This is a massive spike, given that demand was already healthy before the social media shutdown."
Many countries and companies are doing what they can to assist Iranians in getting unrestricted access to information. The US Treasury Department has given the greenlight to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to activate satellite Internet service Starlink for Iranians and Google has just launched a VPN service for Iranians, but using such methods are not simple enough for ordinary people and still not many have managed to access the Internet via them. With both social and traditional media access being so severely curtailed, protesters worry about growing isolation.
People typically avoid these crackdowns by downloading virtual private networks, which allow users to bypass limitations to specific restricted sites. However, such programs do not work when countries entirely shut off basic internet access, as is the situation in various locations across Iran.