Parliamentary Question: VP/HR — Iran: censorship of BBC Farsi and building of ‘halal-Internet’

Marietje

Parliamentary questions

16 November 2011 E-010440/2011   Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE)  Subject: VP/HR — Iran: censorship of BBC Farsi and building of ‘halal-Internet’  Since 12 June 2009, deliberate interference (jamming) by the Iranian government in relation to TV satellites has affected the reception of (inter alia) BBC Persian Television and the Voice of America(1). Consequently, Iranian viewers have been deprived of another source of impartial and independent news and information. On 17 April 2011, Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, announced the design and building of an Iranian ‘halal Internet’ which would ‘conform to Islamic principles’(2). This parallel Internet would cut off Iranians from the Internet proper, and would establish 100 % control by the Iranian government of all content and Internet use, so that Iranians would effectively lose all contact with the outside world. Given the ongoing violations of human rights by the Iranian regime, the EU should seek ways to maintain access for Iranians to the global Internet and to impartial and independent information. Is the VP/HR aware of the jamming by the Iranian government? If so, can the VP/HR confirm whether the issue has been discussed with the Iranian authorities? If not, why not? Is the VP/HR familiar with the charges(3) of censorship that have been made against the French company Eutelsat, the owner and operator of satellites relaying news networks, by the Iranian Nobel Prize laureate Dr Shirin Ebadi? Given that the French Government has a 30 % share in Eutelsat, is the VP/HR willing to consult the French Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss these charges and/or to call for an investigation? If not, why not? Does the VP/HR agree that EU (based) companies should not be(come) complicit in human rights violations, e.g. the restriction of freedom of expression? Can the VP/HR confirm that Iranian state TV broadcasts can be received throughout the EU? If so, is the VP/HR willing to seek restrictive measures against the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting in order to prohibit further broadcasting inside the EU(4) as long as international news networks are censored by the Iranian government, these including BBC Farsi television and the Voice of America? If not, why not? Can the VP/HR explain whether satellites that fall under the control of the European Defence Agency and/or are part of the European Galileo system can be used for successful broadcasting of international news networks? If not, why not? How can the EU prevent Iranians being cut off from the global Internet when the ‘halal Internet’ is operational? Does the VP/HR agree that the ‘halal Internet’ is aimed at avoiding difficulties with censorship of Western news and information? Is the VP/HR willing to investigate how the EU, possibly in cooperation with Turkey, can provide (rapid-response) Internet capacity for Iranian citizens? If not, why not? (1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2009/06_june/19/persian.shtml (2) http://Internetofelsewhere.com/2011/04/17/iran-announces-halal-Internet-and-new-cyberdefense-study-programs/ (3) http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/11/27/127626.html (4) On the same grounds as the restrictive measures against the Libyan Jamahirya Broadcasting Corporation, as laid down in Council Implementing Decision 2011/236/CFSP of 12 April 2011. Please find the answer here.