AI Enables Iran's Crackdown on Women: A Digital Repression Strategy

In a concerning development, the Islamic Republic of Iran is utilizing advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology to intensify its control over the population, with a significant impact on the freedoms of Iranian women. AI's integration into surveillance practices marks a chilling step in the regime's efforts to enforce the controversial Hijab and Chastity Bill.

Key Points:

  • AI and Surveillance Integration:

    • Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reports that the Iranian regime is leveraging AI to enhance its surveillance capabilities.
    • The technology integrates facial recognition, CCTV, cell phone analysis, traffic geolocation, and internet monitoring.
  • Legislation and AI Deployment:

    • The Hijab and Chastity Bill, approved by the Iranian Parliament in September 2023, is awaiting ratification from the regime’s Guardian Council.
    • Article 30 mandates the police to "create and strengthen intelligent systems for identifying perpetrators of illegal behavior using tools such as fixed and mobile cameras."
    • Article 60 compels private businesses to submit video footage to enforcement personnel for compliance checks.
  • Penalties and Economic Impact:

    • Non-compliance with the bill results in severe penalties.
    • Businesses failing to cooperate face fines equivalent to two to six months of profits.
    • Women who do not cover their hair properly risk fines, social exclusion, exile, closure of social media accounts, passport confiscation for up to two years, and imprisonment for up to ten years.
  • Widespread Surveillance:

    • Ahead of the bill’s enactment, Iran has been preparing by installing new cameras nationwide since April 2023.
    • Amnesty International reported increasing pressures on Iranian women during this period.
    • Nearly 1 million SMS warnings were sent to women captured without hijabs in their cars, and over 133,000 vehicles were immobilized.
  • Global Reactions and Concerns:

    • UN experts have criticized the bill, stating it amounts to gender persecution or gender apartheid.
    • The United States has accelerated efforts to block exports of AI chips to Iran, China, and Russia, aiming to curtail their access to advanced AI capabilities.


As Iran integrates AI into its repression apparatus, the international community watches closely, with experts urging increased export controls and sanctions to mitigate the regime's digital crackdown on its citizens. This technological enforcement of social norms underscores the growing intersection of AI and authoritarian governance.