Sneak Peek – Chaos and Control

This post provides an early look at Small Media’s project ‘Chaos and Control: The Competing Tensions of Internet Governance in Iran’ which will examine the international backdrop of internet governance against which Iran’s internet regulations are formulated. This project is being undertaken with support from the Internet Policy Observatory.

Over the past two years, Small Media has kept a closely trained eye on internet policy developments in Iran, publishing regular updates about the domestic policy sphere.

Although our research has yielded valuable insights into Iran’s efforts to censor and control the internet, we haven’t yet taken account of Iran’s contributions to the contentious global debate over the future of internet regulation.

At the moment, we are working on a new project called ‘Chaos and Control: The Competing Tensions of Internet Governance in Iran’. Throughout the research process, we’re trying something a bit different. At a few checkpoints along the way, we will share our preliminary findings and sketches with you on our blog. We’d love your feedback!

For this new report, we will compare how Iran presents itself at global internet governance events with how internet regulations are talked about at ‘home’. In the process, we hope to gain insight into the types of arguments and positions Iran advances at global internet governance events, as well as the sorts of international alliances that it is building to further its agenda on the world stage.

We’ll also be following up on a number of major domestic internet governance fora that were held in Iran in the past year, including the Persian IGF and Persian ICT Week. These internet governance events for Persian-speaking participants will make for an interesting point of comparison with the global, UN-recognised governance fora that Iran engages with.

To address our research questions we have started collecting transcripts of Iranian contributions to global internet governance fora such as WSIS, the IGF, and WCIT. We are going to analyse these documents and group Iran’s statements according to various themes including censorship, state sovereignty and liberalisation. We will also conduct interviews with a number of internet policy experts and former conference attendees.

Our research findings will then be considered in relation to the constitutions of the ITU, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In doing so, we’ll tease out the tensions between the state’s international obligations and its closed, rigid ideology.

By its very nature, the internet is global and decentralised. In order to develop a thorough understanding of Iran’s internet policies, we must therefore consider the international backdrop against which they are formulated. We hope this research will shed light on the alignments and disconnections between Iran’s domestic internet policy, and its public statements on internet governance.


Click here to learn more about Small Media’s projects.

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