[JURIST] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has implemented a law requiring the country's Internet service providers to retain records of users' incoming and outgoing data for at least three months, according to a Monday report [text] by the state-run PressTV [media website] news agency. The government said the law is designed to help catch those who illegally steal others' personal information from the Internet, and that the data would only be monitored under court order or in the interest of national security. Critics argue that the law will enable the government to monitor and censor the internet use [Al Jazeera report] of reporters and political dissidents, whose blogging and use of social networking websites have thus far been able to evade press restrictions.
Iran has been experiencing political unrest since Ahmadenijad won the country's disputed June 12 election [JURIST news archive]. Earlier this month, 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]. Also this month, opposition leaders called for the release [JURIST report] of those detained for their alleged involvement in the protests. Human rights groups have viewed the arrests as political repression [JURIST report], saying that Iranian forces are using the protests to "engage in what appears to be a major purge of reform-oriented individuals."