Iran's government, looking to quell opposition, is shutting down Google's Gmail email service within the country, reports said today.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Iranian authorities are trying to silence any anti-government protests before they can get started.
Government opposition groups have called for protests to be held on Thursday, 11 Feb. when the country traditionally celebrates the anniversary of the Islamic Republic.
As part of the anticipatory sweeps, the government has intermittently disrupted Internet and text messaging services. And the Journal reported that Iran's telecommunications agency announced a permanent suspension of Google's Gmail services. The government is reported to have said it would soon launch a government-run email service for Iranian citizens.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Technology has been something of a lifeline to the people in Iran in recent months. Last June, during the harsh government crackdown following disputed Iranian elections, Twitter became a key tool for people looking for information about what was happening in Iran, as well as for those trying to get information out.
During the crisis, Iran's government is reported to have blocked or shut down various communication mediums - phone lines, Facebook, YouTube videos and even text messaging - but people were still able to send photos and information from Iran in short 140-character bursts.
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