[JURIST] The Iranian government on Saturday announced the establishment of a new police unit to fight Internet crime, though opposition leaders say its true purpose is to crack down on protesters and voices of dissent, who rely on the Internet to get their message out. The police unit has proclaimed that it will particularly target [AP report] lies, fraud, and misinformation on the Internet. The 12-person committee will also prosecute Internet crimes as political crimes [ILNA report]. It is unknown exactly how the police unit will carry out its duties.
In July, Iran passed a law [JURIST report] holding all information that passes through Iranian Internet servers for three months before erasing it, a measure put in place after the June national elections. Iran has been experiencing political unrest since Mahmoud Ahmadenijad won the country's disputed June 12 election [JURIST news archive]. Many of the protests and demonstrations carried out in the wake of the election results were documented on the Internet, and word about them spread via Twitter and Facebook. Earlier in July, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that some arrested protesters were beaten, deprived of sleep and threatened with torture in an effort to force false confessions [report text; JURIST report].