Iran’s government has blocked access to Gmail and the Websites of its opposition through virtual private networks according to an Associate Press story.

Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are illegal in the Middle Eastern nation, though they have been used by many to keep their internet usage away form the eyes of security officials.

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The country accelerated its campaign to block the tool after a series of protests in recent years demonstrated that its attempts to subdue the impact of the internet had not been particularly successful. The recent attempts to restrict usage of VPNs may hamper some attempts to access the web, but users have already found some cracks in the system.

The head of Iran’s parliamentary information technology committee, Ramezanali Sobhani-Fard, stated that all illegal VPNs in the country had been blocked. Despite that claim it appears that many Iranians have still been able to evade the controls, and they’re posting about their success on apparently blocked web sites.

According to a tddaily.com story, one protestor posted on Facebook that he had been able to get around the restrictions and use a VPN to access the site. Facebook is one of the many websites that Iranian officials have deemed illegal.

“Hide My Ass,” a popular proxy network, has reported that its service has not been hampered by the government’s recent efforts. According to the company 1200 Iranians use its service every week. The firm’s owner, Joshua Van Raalte, says that attempts to block VPNs and proxies in authoritarian countries have been completely unsuccessful so far.

Iran’s government has a policy of blocking access to websites it deems bad for the country’s morals. That definition extends to social networks, email providers and the web sites of illegal opposition parties. VPNs are one way in which ordinary Iranians have sought to get around those blocks.

Iran is facing into an interesting year. The country is looking to get around economic sanctions, and is all set to hold its first presidential election since 2009. During the last election officials attempted to block all access to the internet. The biggest issue for the international community is still the country’s nuclear program.

The internet is a complex tool, and its innovators usually keep one step ahead of the authorities. The Iranian government’s attempts to block the use of VPNs does not appear to have been successful but security officials will almost certainly try again.