During the election protests in Iran, the country severed access to many websites and heavily filtered others. Among those affected were Google and Yahoo! and today a report on ZDNet claims that Yahoo! made a deal with Iranian internet and telecommunications authorities. The deal allegedly involved the handing over of more than 200,000 names in exchange for lifting the block on Yahoo!.
Citing a post on the Iranian Students Solidarity (Farsi) blog, ZDNet's Richard Koman says his sources indicate the information comes from a group of resisters who have infiltrated the administration and are leaking out important information.
The post goes on to say that Yahoo! sent a representative to Iran’s telecommunications ministry, to resolve the issue of limited or blocked access to the site. During the meeting, Iranian Internet authorities and telecommunications authorities supposedly asked the Yahoo! rep to hand over the details of all Iranian account holders, in exchange for removing the block/filter on Yahoo!. When the rep said compiling such a list would take practically forever, the IRGC (Islamic Republic Guardian Council) narrowed it down by asking Yahoo! to provide the details of those who have Yahoo! accounts and are publishing blogs.
The list of 200,000 email addresses provided by Yahoo! apparently goes back five years and is comprised of both active and inactive blogs/accounts.
Check out the full story here.
[UPDATE] ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan has labeled the report 'unreliable' because there is a lack of second or third sources.
Previous updates to the post include a statement from Yahoo! categorically denying that any such meeting took place (check it out below) and details from Richard Koman regarding his sources and where they got their information from. Koman says his source obtained the information from the Iranian Student Solidarity Organization, a group of 30,000 students who oppose the Iranian government and claims one of their contacts actually attended the meeting where the Yahoo official from Malaysia and IRI staff took place.
Statement from Yahoo!:
“The allegations in the story are false. Neither Yahoo! nor any Yahoo! representative has met with or communicated with any Iranian officials, and Yahoo! has not disclosed user data to the Iranian government. Yahoo! was founded on the principle that access to information and communications tools can improve people’s lives, and Yahoo! is committed to protecting and promoting freedom of expression and privacy. To learn more about our human rights efforts, please visit: http://humanrights.yahoo.com.”