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[liberationtech] Iranian flagpoles for jamming?
aminsabeti at gmail.com
Mon Dec 3 06:01:42 PST 2012
I completely agree with Collin. How is it possible that we can count on
On 3 December 2012 13:13, Collin Anderson <collin at averysmallbird.com> wrote:
> I second Amin's suggestion on the Small Media report; this Fox News
> article is deeply misinformed. More than anything I am surprised that any
> media source is still citing Austin Heap as a credible source, however, the
> author's track record of stories seems to explain a lot. Unfortunately,
> with comments like "satellite-to-satellite jamming," Mr. Heap seems to know
> less about international broadcasting than he did Internet censorship.
> On Sat, Dec 1, 2012 at 2:38 PM, Amin Sabeti <aminsabeti at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I think this report will be useful:
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 30 Nov 2012, at 20:05, Joel Harding <joel.k.hard at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I have some serious doubts if this is even possible. My thoughts are
>> that an antenna strong enough to hold up a flag would not be an
>> efficient radiating element. Wouldn't the wires be visible at the
>> base? Wouldn't there have to be some sort of a transmitter in fairly
>> close proximity? Is this just being fueled by conspiracy theorists or
>> is this actually being done? I don't recall seeing this before.
>> New flagpoles in Iran spark rumors of clandestine satellite jamming
>> By Lisa Daftari
>> Published November 30, 2012
>> Flying the national flag usually signifies a display of pride or
>> patriotism. But in Iran today, it may represent something much more
>> Sources and blog postings from inside Iran say that what seem to be
>> simple flagpoles popping up all over Tehran and other large Iranian
>> cities are actually clandestine electronic antennas, which use
>> high-frequency waves to jam communications and block ordinary citizens
>> from Internet, TV and radio signals. Some Iranians think the
>> electronic emissions also may be hazardous to humans’ health.
>> Tehran residents and communication experts report an increase in
>> jamming has coincided with the strategic placement of the towering
>> metal flagpoles, as the government continues its ongoing campaign to
>> block some 500 TV channels and 200 radio stations from outside Iran
>> deemed too Western-oriented.
>> “Ever since 2009, the telecommunications masts have increased 10- to
>> 15-fold. It’s not clear where these masts are, but many in Tehran,
>> including myself, believe that these tall flagpoles recently placed
>> around the perimeter of the city are jammers,” said Shahin, a
>> 32-year-old Tehran-based blogger. The flagpoles are present in other
>> large Iranian cities but are most prevalent in the capital, Shahin
>> “The regime fears the Internet and satellites coming into the country
>> more than they do the opposition forces living here,” he added.
>> “That’s how we know they would do anything in their power, including
>> risking our health, to protect their existence.”
>> During the 2009 post-election uprisings, Iranian protesters who took
>> to the streets turned to blogs and social networking sites like
>> Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to voice and organize their opposition
>> to the regime. Since then, the Iranian government has worked
>> diligently to block access to such sites.
>> The jammer flagpole scheme “is very much in line with and fits the
>> pattern they have been demonstrating since 2009,” said Austin Heap,
>> executive director of the Censorship Research Center.
>> “The shape of the flagpole lends itself to house such a structure. If
>> you notice the width of the pole decreasing as it gets taller, this is
>> consistent with the design principles for good omni-directional
>> broadcasting. … It’s a kill switch,” Heap explained.
>> “It’s just the next step in controlling what comes in and out of the
>> country,” Heap said. “Iran is looking to become better at controlling
>> the dialogue.”
>> The Iranian government has relied on two jamming techniques, according
>> to Heap. One is the more widely used “satellite-to-satellite” method,
>> in which waves are sent directly from one satellite to the other in an
>> attempt to overwhelm the broadcast signal.
>> But foreign broadcast companies learned to work around that by
>> switching signals, turning the censorship campaign into a
>> cat-and-mouse game that requires more time and effort by the Iranian
>> government to block each channel.
>> The flagpole jammers represent a second method, referred to as
>> on-the-ground or local jamming. That process involves sending
>> high-frequency microwaves over a larger area, saturating signals that
>> jam incoming signals.
>> “This new type of jamming is a catch-all,” Heap said. “It is a
>> one-size-fits-all solution.”
>> The increase in jamming has been noted by the United States and
>> European Union, both of whom announced new communications sanctions
>> and warnings against the Iranian regime in November.
>> Since the 2009 uprisings, roughly $76 million of the total $11.5
>> billion allocated to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps has been spent
>> on cyber warfare, the Iranian government once reported. Iran’s cyber
>> police monitor the Internet, various websites, blogs and individuals
>> suspected of using circumvention tools designed to evade the censors.
>> In early 2011, Iran unveiled plans for a “halal network,” or an
>> “Islamically permissible” intranet that would disconnect the nation
>> from the rest of the world. Such a service would automatically block
>> popular global sites and search engines like Google, Facebook and
>> Other experts are more concerned about the health side effects of
>> these suspected flagpole jammers, and they cite a rise in cancer rates
>> in Iran as a possible result of the increased jamming activity.
>> “A cancer tsunami is imminent,” Dr. Ali Mohagheghi, from Iran’s
>> Ministry of Health, admitted earlier this year. Mohagheghi urged
>> doctors to prepare for the coming “inundation” of cancer cases.
>> “I’m not a doctor, but I’ll tell you it’s a one-to-one correlation,”
>> said Heap, who explained that the second type of jamming - the ground
>> jamming - emits a much higher degree of cancer-causing radiation.
>> Those who have written about the flagpole jammers or hinted of their
>> connection with cancer rates have been seriously criticized, even
>> threatened with imprisonment.
>> Masoomeh Ebtekar, head of Iran’s Environmental Organization, echoed
>> the idea of a “cancer tsunami” a few months later, to the
>> semi-official Mehr News agency. But she went further and connected the
>> increase in cancer cases to the jamming waves.
>> The government quickly responded by accusing Ebtekar of circulating
>> rumors, and threatened to imprison her if she continued to speak about
>> the subject, according to the Boltan News site.
>> Despite government pressure, the story has not disappeared, as doctors
>> and others continue to research the possible jammer-cancer connection.
>> “New cases of pediatric cancer are growing at such an unbelievable
>> rate that one can only connect this crisis to the increase in
>> high-frequency waves,” said a pediatrician living and practicing in
>> Tehran. “One only has to pay a visit to MAHAK (a pediatric cancer
>> hospital) in northern Tehran to see how real this tragedy is,” she
>> “Of course the government doesn’t want these cases and these
>> statistics to be announced. It might cost them the regime.”
>> Read more:
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> *Collin David Anderson*
> averysmallbird.com | @cda | Washington, D.C.
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