GIF resumes anti-censorship services to Iran due to election crisis

Press Release, Global Internet Freedom Consortium, June 17, 2009 -

ATLANTA, June 17, 2009 – In response to increased attempts from Iranian web surfers to use its anti-censorship services, Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIF) has resumed them to Iran. This step has been greeted by an extraordinary traffic spike.

Amidst the political tumult, web surfers in Iran have literally rushed to utilize GIF’s protocols in order to obtain secure and censorship-immune channels of communication.

“Due to the dynamic situation in Iran caused by the election and its protest aftermath, the number of daily ‘hits’ from Iran has tripled during the past week,” said Dr. Shiyu Zhou, Deputy Director of GIF.

Considering the special circumstances in Iran, GIF temporarily reopened its anti-censorship services to Iranian web surfers on June 13. More than 120 million web ‘hits’ to GIF immediately followed on the next day, up from less than 60 million before the reopening. On June 16, GIF protocols logged more than 200 million daily ‘hits,’ or 400,000 estimated unique users, from Iran.

Unfortunately, server crashes caused by overload have been reported from GIF data centers.

Iran had been GIF’s second largest user base, only trailing China, until the end of 2008. The growing, word-of-mouth popularity of GIF tools, including FreeGate and UltraSurf, raised late 2008 demand to the level of overloading the capacity of GIF’s servers.

Given the risk of worldwide GIF system crashes, major cutbacks of GIF’s “lifeline” services to Iran and elsewhere had to be put into effect in early 2009, resulting in a sharp drop in Iran-originated traffic and user outcries.

“Our technology is highly scalable, and we really want to provide our services to everyone in repressive regimes,” said Dr. Zhou. “However, with our very limited resources we cannot now afford infrastructure large enough to do that. Our current service enhancement for the Iranian users will therefore be temporary unless we can find the support to sustain the operation.”

- Global Internet Freedom Consortium