Iran has reversed its ban of Gmail, after complaints even from within its own government, saying it was all an accident.
The Iranian government originally blocked the popular email service a week earlier as part of a broader ban of web content, including Google’s YouTube, in the wake of widespread unrest over a controversial anti-Islam video on the video-sharing site.
While supposedly prompted by the offensive YouTube video, the bans were the centerpiece of an effort to promote a “national Internet” similar to the cloistered web existing behind the “Great Firewall of China.”
The Gmail ban sparked widespread complaints — and not just from dissidents and online activists. Members of Iran’s parliament who relied on Gmail began agitating for the Telecommunications Ministry to end the ban. After lawmakers threatened to drag the telecoms minister before parliament for questioning, the government relented and said the week-old ban on Gmail would be lifted.
The official who announced the end of the ban said the blockage of Gmail “was unintended,” and happened by accident when the government blocked YouTube. That’s despite the fact that the text message announcing the blockage a week earlier specifically mentioned Gmail:
“Due to the repeated demands of the people, Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide,” the message said. “They will remain filtered until further notice.”