Iranian Cyber Police

The Iranian Cyber Police  for the Sphere of the Production and Exchange of Information also known as FATA is a unit of the Islamic Republic of Iran Police, founded in January 2011. In December 2012, the head of Tehran’s cyber police unit was dismissed in relation to the death of Iranian blogger Sattar Beheshti, who was being held in the cyber police’s custody.

In January 2012, the cyber police issued new guidelines for Internet cafés, requiring users to provide personal information that would be kept by café owners for six months, as well as a record of the websites they visited. The rules also require café owners to install closed-circuit television cameras and maintain the recordings for six months. The cyber police stated the measures are being implemented because “citizens are concerned about theft of information.” According to Golnaz Esfandiari of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, however, the new rules “will also create a logbook that authorities can use to track down activists or whomever is deemed a threat to national security.”

The same month, the cyber police also arrested four administrators of a Facebook group that had launched an online beauty competition. The cyber police chief announced the group had been “destroyed” for spreading corruption and immorality.

In June 2012, Iranian media reported that the cyber police would be launching a crack down on virtual private networks (VPNs), which is used by many Iranians to circumvent the government’s Internet censorship.