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Iran arrests 16 in online censorship crackdown

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard arrested 16 cyberactivists and journalists in a recent crackdown on Internet censorship, according to Mashable.

The Internet has been a valuable tool for many countries to speak out against government oppression. In 2009, for instance, protests throughout Iran erupted following the contentious reelection of then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Following his victory, the government instituted major censorship provisions throughout the country that put heavy restriction on Internet access.

New arrests
Now, the government is once again cracking down on those who have become vocal about various injustices that they have witnessed. According to Mashable, 16 activists and journalists have been arrested under accusations of working counter to national security and colluding with "enemy media."

An anonymous source told the news outlet that the government was asking for about $80,000 for their release. These arrests reportedly began when an Iranian technology news outlet announced that members of its staff has been detained. 

Many of those who were detained first had their homes searched and belonging seized.

Discouraging news
When current President Hassan Rouhani was elected, he ran on a platform that sought to make Internet in the country more open. According to Reporters Without Borders, in his first 100 days in office, Rouhani has failed to live up to these promises, with these arrests only being the most recent example of these shortcomings.

The news source reported that the country still has among the highest number of journalists and netizens imprisoned with around 50 in detention as of November 20, though, these new arrests are not included in this figure. On top of this, the government restriction on using social media have yet to be lifted.

Further, those who have been detained because of their views have been treated quite poorly while in detention. The news source reported that those who are currently in prison are suffering from multiple ailments and have been refused transfer to a hospital or access to other forms of proper medical treatment.

Despite the promises of Rouhani, it seems as if the state of an open Internet and freedom of expression still have a large ways to go. If the country is to see true progress, the practice of arresting activists needs to stop. The Internet is an important resource when it comes to the free flow of information, and these kinds of actions are detrimental to a strong democracy.

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