U.S. sponsors anti-censorship web service

Thursday, 28 August 2003, 12:34 PM EST

A pact between the U.S. government and the electronic privacy company Anonymizer, Inc. is making the Internet a safer place for controversial websites and subversive opinions -- if you're Iranian.

This month Anonymizer began providing Iranians with free access to a Web proxy service designed to circumvent their government's online censorship efforts. In May, government ministers issued a blacklist of 15,000 forbidden "immoral" websites that ISPs in the country must block -- reportedly a mix of adult sites and political news and information outlets. An estimated two million Iranians have Internet access.

Among the banned sites are the website for the U.S.-funded Voice of America broadcast service, and the site for Radio Farda, another U.S. station that beams Iranian youth a mix of pop music and westernized news. Both stations are run by the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the U.S. government's overseas news and propaganda arm.

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