An 11-year-old Iranian boy has been detained by police on suspicion he obtained the password to a bank account and used it to transfer money to himself.
The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported that the boy was detained in Babol, a city located in the province of Mazandaran along the Caspian Sea in northern Iran.
Ahmedrza Rustam who heads the counter-cybercrime department of the Mazandaran police reported the boy’s detention on Monday.
The boy’s alleged crime is noteworthy not only because of his age but because of Iran’s strict controls over Internet use.
Steps taken to censor and monitor citizens on the Internet have included a requirement to register websites with the government, the harassment of bloggers, restrictions on cybercafes, and plans to create an Iranian Internet separate from the worldwide web.
Just last week, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa (Islamic ruling) prohibiting online chatting between men and women who are not relatives.
There were also reports coming out of Iran that the photo-sharing site Instagram was blocked for half a day at the end of December. This was described by Mashable as “the latest casualty of Iran’s most recent online clampdown – despite promises of more Internet freedom by the new government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.”
The restrictions aside, Iran is believed to have the highest penetration of Internet use in the Middle East after Israel, with 7.5 million surfers, according to a 2006 Guardian report.