Some Web security experts also have raised the possibility of Iranian hackers being behind some recent high-profile computer attacks, such as disruptions at Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant Saudi Aramco and Qatari natural gas producer RasGas earlier this month. Iran has denied any links.
In a video message for Iranian new year in March, President Barack Obama denounced what he called the ‘‘electronic curtain’’ that keeps ordinary Iranians from reaching out to Americans and the West.
A few weeks later, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the creation of an Internet oversight agency that included top military, security and political figures in the country’s boldest attempt yet to control the Internet. The panel is headed by Ahmadinejad and includes powerful figures in the security establishment such as the intelligence chief and the commander of the Revolutionary Guard.
It’s not Iran’s first attempt to hold off what hardliners call a Western ‘‘cultural invasion.’’ The so-called Barbie wars have gone on for more than a decade with periodic raids to confiscate the iconic American dolls from toy stores. Iran also introduced its own dolls — twins Dara and Sara — designed to promote traditional values with modest clothing and pro-family values, but it hasn’t significantly dented the demand for Barbie dolls.
Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.