Iran has relied on European telecom companies, including Siemens and Nokia, to develop one of the world's most intricate systems for monitoring and censoring the Internet, reports the Wall Street Journal. The regime's surveillance goes beyond blocking access; it gathers information on individual users using a technique known as deep packet inspection and even has the ability to alter web content to spread disinformation. "We didn't know they could do this much," said one engineer in Tehran.
Iran had experimented with the surveillance program briefly before, but the recent protests have offered the first demonstration of its powers. The regime's control of cyberspace may help to explain why Iran has allowed Internet access to continue—although slowed to a tenth of normal speeds. "They're drilling into what the population is trying to say," said one tech expert. "This looks like a step beyond what any other country is doing, including China."