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Useless democracy promotion efforts? There’s an app for that.

The Voice of America recently unveiled a new iPhone application that allows Iranian “citizen journalists” to send video and images directly to VOA’s Persian News Network. The app, designed by the Washington D.C.-based company Intridea, is being advertised as a cutting-edge method for Iranian reformers to spread their message across the country. The application “empowers ...

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The Voice of America recently unveiled a new iPhone application that allows Iranian “citizen journalists” to send video and images directly to VOA’s Persian News Network. The app, designed by the Washington D.C.-based company Intridea, is being advertised as a cutting-edge method for Iranian reformers to spread their message across the country. The application “empowers Iranians at a time when the government is staging a crackdown against opposition protesters,” announced the head of the Persian News Network.

I’m sure that this initiative was begun with the best of intentions. However, there’s only one problem — oh, who am I kidding, there are a whole slew of problems. To begin with, a normal iPhone won’t work in Iran: AT&T, the only carrier for the iPhone, doesn’t provide service in the country. The very wealthy have been able to get their hands on “unlocked” iPhones, which can be used with any carrier in Iran. However, the number of these phones in Iran are few and far between. But even for those with unlocked iPhones, there is no data network in Iran that would allow them to connect to the Internet.

Our intrepid Iranian friend, therefore, would also have to be in an area where he could pick up a wireless connection with his iPhone. At that point, of course, he could also send his video and pictures using more old-fashioned technology — for example, a laptop.

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

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