Iran has lifted the block on Gmail it put in place on September 24. However, the AFP reports that this is only because the country aims to set up additional, stricter blocks for YouTube. The secure version of Google search which runs on the HTTPS protocol has also been unblocked.

As per the report, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the secretary of an official group tasked with detecting Internet content deemed illegal, said in a message last week that “Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide… until further notice.”

Citizens of Iran can now access their email.

Citizens of Iran can now access their email.

Reports in the media have revealed that the popular email service was blocked ''involuntarily' amid efforts to bar access to YouTube. This was apparently caused due to lack of technical knowledge of how to prevent access to YouTube without affecting Gmail. Mohammad Reza Miri, a member of the telecommunications ministry committee tasked with filtering the Internet in Iran, was quoted by the Mehr news agency as saying, “Unfortunately, we do not yet have enough technical knowhow to differentiate between these two services. We wanted to block YouTube and Gmail was also blocked, which was involuntary”.

However, Iran is determined to restrict access to the popular video sharing site. “We absolutely do not want YouTube to be accessible. That is why the telecommunications ministry is seeking a solution to fix the problem to block YouTube under the HTTPS protocol while leaving Gmail accessible. That will soon happen,” Miri said.

Iran’s efforts to censor YouTube completely have been accelerated following the furore caused by the anti-Islam film that has been doing the rounds on the Internet. Even the Indian government has directed Google to block access to the video, and according to reports coming in today, it seems the government has directed ISPs to block both Facebook and YouTube in Kashmir.

The Iranian government last week also announced plans to move citizens to its local Internet system, which it said will be fully implemented by March 2013. Reports indicate that the Internet filters operational in Iran are one of the biggest of any country in the world, preventing normal Iranians from accessing countless sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal.

In April this year, Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, Reza Taghipour had affirmed that by August, millions of Internet users in the country would be cut off the Internet permanently, thereby disconnecting them from services such as e-mail and social networking. At the time, a report by International Business Times confirms that the block on the Internet will deter a user’s access to popular sites such as Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo! and Hotmail, in a bid to facilitate the government’s intention of establishing ‘clean Internet’.

The statement cites the government’s decision to resurrect a national intranet by that time. Once the first phase of the project is rolled out, the aforementioned sites will be blocked completely for Internet users in Iran, and will instead be replaced with government Intranet services such as Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine.

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