Although Iran makes a big deal of its censorship policies and is even talking about building its own internet to keep the western riff-raff out, it seems to be ignoring a booming anti-censorship market.
Apparently there is so much money involved that the same government authorities that do the censoring then turn around and allow the sale of censorship-beating software to make a bit of cash.
Anti-censorship technology is illegal in Iran, but many VPNs are sold openly, allowing Iranians to bounce around censorship and seemingly render it ineffective.
According to the Daily Dot nearly 70 percent of young Iranians are using VPNs and a Google search for “buy VPN” in Persian returns two million results.
Ironically Iran’s Cyber Police (FATA) have waged a high-volume open war against the VPNs, but this seems to be for show.
In fact, that you can use Iran’s government-sanctioned payment gateways (Pardakht Net, Sharj Iran, Jahan Pay & Baz Pardakht) to buy the tools that’ll beat the censors.
Independent Iranian media have reported that “elements within the government and the Revolutionary Guard provide support to a number of VPN sellers,” according to a 2014 report from Small Media.
“Reports hypothesise that this is a mutually profitable arrangement; lining the pockets of officials at the same time as it allows VPN sellers to continue in their work without the threat of state interference.”