The "Twitter Revolution," some call it. In Iran, tyranny has run afoul of technology in the form of the Internet, turning a protest into a movement.
It is not the first time in history that the impulse for freedom has scaled borders by electronic means. I remember the Soviet Union during the Cold War, where the government made a heavy investment in jamming equipment, trying to shut out the voices of America. I remember East Germany, where a Stalinist regime threatened jail for those who pointed their TV antennas toward West German television. And I remember Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, when courageous television crews in Prague defied orders not to show anti-Communist demonstrations.
In China, the government has decreed that all personal computers must have software that will filter out "unhealthy information." The government has a list of banned Web sites.
Iran has now become the latest arena in the struggle for control in cyberspace. The Internet has effectively defeated the regime's efforts to isolate marchers from each other and from the outside world.
The Internet has become a veritable underground social network. A dedicated Twitter account for supporters of challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi claims to have more than 11,000 followers. The Twitter company in San Francisco expresses pride that it is playing an important part in Iran as a communications tool.
Perhaps one should not exaggerate the effects of the battle for cyberspace in Iran. The beleaguered regime still has instruments of repression, the guns and the truncheons, but the exhilaration among the students as they march with cell phones and Twitter has struck a blow against a closed society.