Iran's taste of internet freedom was a shortlived 'technical failure'

Yesterday, for a brief spell, ordinary Iranian citizens were able to talk to each other via Twitter and Facebook -- services that had been officially banned since 2009. Today, however, they awoke to discover that the government had fully restored its anti-social blockade, with one communications official dismissing the whole episode as a "technical failure" stemming from some ISPs. That's not necessarily true, however, and another possible explanation is that yesterday's events were the result of a tussle between emerging pro-internet moderates like Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, and hard-liners elsewhere in the country's power structure. Alternatively, some fear that the temporary lifting of the ban was a ploy to allow the authorities to trace would-be Facebook users. In any case, the communication official's response to the glitch sounds ominous: "We will take action if there was a human flaw," he's quoted as saying. "We are probing it."