Internet users in Iranian capital of Tehran along with those from a few other cities have confirmed that they are no longer able to access sites like Gmail, Yahoo, Facebook and it seems that the Government of Iran has blocked access to these sites at a crucial, politically volatile period.
Users were either greeted with a message in Farsi that read "Access to this page is a violation of computer crime laws" (translated) or the connection was slowed down to the extent that viewing pages on these sites was virtually impossible.
According to reports, the firewalls deployed by the government of the Islamic republic are increasingly becoming stronger with each passing day, thus eventually strangling the Internet users' access to global networks (read: freedom of expression) to death.
Up until now, users were able to get past the barb-wired online censorship of Iran through the use of VPN tools but, they too have been rendered useless. Washington Post has it from a user that he wasn't able to use a tool that he had been using for years for accessing Facebook, blogging, checking emails, etc. "There has been a change," said the user. "It seems that the authorities are increasingly getting the upper hand online", he added.
The shutdown of global websites by the government has come at a time when there were already fair bit of rumours going on about a potential anti-government protest being planned on the 3rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
The government of Iran led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not come up with any official announcement in this regard.
Iran is particularly anxious at present, being surrounded by tens of U.S. military bases, faced with a huge military build-up and the threat of bombings and invasion.
Coupled with the fact that the U.S. Government is known to monitor social networks, like Facebook and Twitter - as the recent arrest and deportation of a British tourist for making an innocuous tweet proves - the Iranian Government's reported move is perhaps a bit more understandable.