Toosheh, Iranian Protests, and Internet Shutdowns

News is pouring out from Iran regarding the nationwide anti-government demonstrations. What began as a few gatherings of protesters in a couple of cities has now grown to widespread protests and clashes with the regime's security forces, resulting in the arrest of hundreds and the death of at least 20 individuals.

Photograph: AP

Photograph: AP

In response the regime has not only countered the demonstrations with its police forces, but has also shut down various internet and social media applications including Instagram and Telegram. Since more well-known apps such as Facebook and Twitter were already permanently banned in Iran, the shutdown of Instagram and Telegram equates to the forfeiture of the public's ability to digitally communicate and distribute information to each other. Furthermore, such national unrest has preceded many governments completely shutting down their respective country’s internet to prevent further protest planning and to filter news regarding possible government retaliation. In short, this blocking of social media apps could be only the beginning of more drastic strides to censor the access of information. 

Toosheh, NetFreedom Pioneers’ “knapsack” technology for Iranian audiences, has embraced this unique opportunity to distribute information to Iran’s public. Its ability to provide offline digital content has resulted in over 150,000 users installing Toosheh software since its creation, and its usage has tripled since the protests began. In just 16 hours Toosheh received 1000 requests for its software, and Toosheh’s website traffic has doubled. This means that those who do have internet access are checking out Toosheh and what it has to offer, perhaps in preparation for a possible internet shutdown.

Toosheh Channel covers the majority of the Middle Eastern region. 

Toosheh Channel covers the majority of the Middle Eastern region. 

Because of this special opportunity to empower the Iranian public, NetFreedom Pioneers’ co-founder and director has issued the following Calls to Action to support Toosheh.


Should anyone have digital content that could be useful, educational, or inspirational for the Iranian public to access, please send it to [email protected]. Toosheh will upload content suggestions to its channel to be accessed by its users. Example of possible content include analyses of the protests, authentic protest videos, or safe activism materials. Please take into consideration that because Toosheh is for Persian audiences, Persian materials are best.


Please spread word about Toosheh to your friends and family. We want as many as possible to know what Toosheh offers, especially those living in Iran. Should the Iranian regime shut down the internet, Toosheh will be even more of a crucial source of digital information. However Iranians will have needed to download Toosheh before an internet shutdown in order to thereafter utilize its offline technology. A short Persian video here describes the process of using Toosheh.


Toosheh is currently seeking Persian speaking volunteers to aggregate and/or translate protest content for Iranians users. Please contact NFP or Toosheh through their provided “Contact” pages located here. 


Increasing the amount of content Toosheh can send through its technology costs money. If you are willing and able, please donate to NetFreedom Pioneers, the 501c3 nonprofit organization running and hosting Toosheh. Click here to donate.

Please join us. Together we can make a difference. 

Tech Highlight: CeNo Censorship Circumvention

NetFreedom Pioneers wishes to highlight the innovative new CeNo technology. CeNo was invented to preemptively defend against possible national intranets − networks maintained by a nation or country in order to restrict its population's access to outside media.

CeNo bypasses Internet censorship and gives users unlimited access to the most heavily restricted and censored content. It does this by caching and storing censored website content inside an uncensored zone network and uses encrypted transport protocol to transfer this content between users. Users can therefore surf anonymously and have plausible deniability.

CeNo uses GitHub, Freenet, and Bundler, and is a project of is an organization dedicated to “digital security for civil society.” It “develops open and reusable systems with a focus on privacy, online security, and information management. [It’s] goal is to create accessible technology and improve the skill set needed for defending human rights and freedoms in the digital age.”

Congratulations to and to CeNo on its success! Their efforts to combat censorship are much needed and deserve to be applauded.

NFP and RightsCon 2017

NetFreedom Pioneers had another special opportunity to attend and participate in a conference this year, specifically the much anticipated RightsCon 2017. Hosted and organized by Access Now, RightsCon is a chance for hundreds of experts from around the world to gather together and share knowledge with each other on myriad topics relating to human rights and the digital world. Though the annual conference centers on this theme,  its attendees and participants come from a plethora of specialties: business and entrepreneurship, civil society advocacy, security and surveillance, human rights activism, journalism, technology, and the list goes on.

Executive Director Mehdi Yahyanejad represented NFP at a RightsCon booth by providing information, answering questions, and handing out swag related to our innovative technology.

Executive Director Mehdi Yahyanejad represented NFP at a RightsCon booth by providing information, answering questions, and handing out swag related to our innovative technology.

 NFP staff participated in a Tech Demo during the conference’s opening ceremony. Entitled “Toosheh: Streaming Data Files Through Satellite TV Channels,” this demo session allowed staff to illustrate how Toosheh and NFP satellite Filecasting technology allows digital content to be sent to those living in areas around the world with limited access to information.  

NFP representatives also attended many of the conference’s engaging and informative sessions, including “Everything We Know About Internet Shutdowns”, “Apps for Refugees”, “Personal Data and Privacy”, and “Global Opportunities and Risks.”

Toranj: A New App for Iranian Women Experiencing Domestic Violence

Today NetFreedom Pioneers and United for Iran, a Bay-Area NGO working to promote civil liberties and civil society in Iran, are announcing the release of Toranj, a groundbreaking app that empowers and supports victims of domestic abuse.

Toranj assists Iranian women who have suffered or are suffering domestic abuse in several different ways. It acts as a method of instantaneous communication, notifying trusted friends of a victim’s abuse the moment it begins. Victims can safely and discreetly send a series of pre-drafted text messages to selected contacts. For example, these texts can read “call the police,” “get here fast,” or any other message the user would like to prepare. This can be done at a simple touch of the app’s HELP button. Furthermore, the app shares the victim’s GPS signal to inform these contacts of the victim’s location.

The app also contains a list of suggested, local experts who survivors may contact for support: family attorneys, counselors, law enforcement officers, and advocates. Legal documents and guidelines pertaining to victim rights and the filing of abuse complaints are also available to read and examine on Toranj. Survivors and victims thus have immediate access to a support network containing trusted friends and family, advocates, and knowledge of the legal system.

“Where social, cultural and legal barriers already make gender equality a struggle for women, user-friendly technologies are vital to provide support to at-risk individuals and raise awareness about their rights,” added Simin Kargar, Program Manager of NetFreedom Pioneers.

“In Iran, as in many parts of the world, domestic violence and other acts of abuse against women are too common. A 2003 study found 66% of married women in Iran subjected to some kind of violence.  50% of Iranian women silently experience domestic abuse yet fewer than 35% report to law enforcement,” explained Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director of United for Iran. “We hope that Toranj users never need to call for help. But the reality is that too many Iranian women experience domestic abuse and violence at the hands of a loved one. Toranj gives them the power to protect themselves and tools to stay out of harm’s way.”

However, Toranj is for both survivors and anyone who may become one. On the Toranj app, users can complete an assessment of their current relations with others. The assessment not only provides questions which women should consider in regards to the healthiness of their relationships, but also determines the prospective abusiveness of the user’s current partnership.

Toranj was developed by NetFreedom Pioneers, which was selected as one of the small grant winners of the IranCubator contest in August.

Toranj app may be viewed and downloaded here.

Digital Social Memory

NetFreedom Pioneers (NFP) had the privilege of being invited to the Digital Social Memory conference at the New Museum Theater in New York City.  Mehdi Yahyanejad, our co-founder and director, participated in a panel entitled “Archival Narratives and Counter-narratives” alongside Josh Miller (Director of Product Management, White House Office of Digital Strategy) and Dragan Espenschied (Preservation Director, Rhizome).

With today’s presence of technology in people’s lives, web content and material is as much a part of society’s social memory as the places in which one lives or the food that one eats. Panelists discussed the role this digital social memory and archiving can play in shaping social and political reality. Our company’s efforts to deliver web archives to different communities around the world were examined as a case study.

NFP is able to deliver web archives because of its ongoing collaboration with Rhizome’s project. We package online news using the project and deliver it to our users over satellite on a weekly basis. NFP shared the user feedback on with the Rhizome team and is currently in the midst of creating further collaboration opportunities.




NetFreedom Pioneers is undergoing some exciting changes, and we hope to reflect that in our updated website. In future months, you can expect details on our expansion on our current projects, an engaging social media campaign, and the new opportunity for you to personally get involved in our movement with an interactive media section.