Google warns of Iranian government spy campaign

Female Iranian election officials check the IDs of the women voters as they cast their ballots in southern Tehran, on June 14, 2013.

Google says it has found evidence the Iranian government is spying on its citizens. Today voters in that country head to the polls to elect a new president. The tech giant suspects the Iranian government is trying to head off any political unrest by keeping tabs on domestic email correspondence.

Google posted a blog on Thursday, warning Iranian citizens of surveillance:

"For almost three weeks, we have detected and disrupted multiple email-based phishing campaigns aimed at compromising the accounts owned by tens of thousands of Iranian users. These campaigns, which originate from within Iran, represent a significant jump in the overall volume of phishing activity in the region. The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated in connection with the Iranian presidential election on Friday." - Google Europe Blog

Yet Eva Galperin at the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues the blog post has another function.

"It's also sort of a warning to the Iranian government," Galperin says, a message that tells them "we're watching you."
    
The last Iranian presidential election in 2009 was met with widespread demonstrations and accusations of political malfeasance.

Galperin says since then, the Iranian government has been working on building a closed Internet system in an effort to exert more control over the online communications of its citizens.

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Ben Johnson is the host of Marketplace Tech.

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