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- Daughter of late Iranian president jailed for ‘spreading lies’
- IRAN: Annual report on the death penalty 2016
- Taheri Facing the Death Penalty Again
- Dedicated team seeking return of missing agent in Iran
- Iran Arrests 2, Seizes Bibles During Catholic Crackdown
- Trump to welcome Netanyahu as Palestinians fear U.S. shift
- Details of Iran nuclear deal still secret as US-Tehran relations unravel
- Will Trump's Next Iran Sanctions Target China's Banks?
- Don’t ‘tear up’ the Iran deal. Let it fail on its own.
- Iran Has Changed, But For The Worse
- Iran nuclear deal ‘on life support,’ Priebus says
- Female Activist Criticizes Rouhani’s Failure to Protect Citizens
- Iran’s 1st female bodybuilder tells her story
- Iranian lady becomes a Dollar Millionaire on Valentine’s Day
- Two women arrested after being filmed riding motorbike in Iran
- 43,000 Cases of Child Marriage in Iran
- Woman Investigating Clinton Foundation Child Trafficking KILLED!
- Senior Senators, ex-US officials urge firm policy on Iran
- In backing Syria's Assad, Russia looks to outdo Iran
- Six out of 10 People in France ‘Don’t Feel Safe Anywhere’
- The liberal narrative is in denial about Iran
- Netanyahu urges Putin to block Iranian power corridor
- Iran Poses ‘Greatest Long Term Threat’ To Mid-East Security
Tuesday 10 April 2012
Iran topped a recent list of repressive regimes that most aggressively restrict Internet freedom. The list, published by Reporters Without Borders, is a part of the 2012 edition of the organization’s Enemies of the Internet report. One of the details addressed in that report is the Iranian government’s bizarre plan to create its own “clean” Internet. The proposed system, an insular nationwide intranet that is reportedly isolated from the regular Internet, would be heavily regulated by the government.
Reporters Without Borders drew attention to Iran’s national Internet plan when it was first proposed in 2011. The organization says that the system "consists of an Intranet designed ultimately to replace the international Internet and to discriminate between ordinary citizens and the 'elite' (banks, ministries and big companies), which will continue to have access to the international Internet."
In addition to developing its own Intranet system, Reporters Without Borders says that the Iranian government is also creating its own custom electronic mail service and a national search engine called Ya Haq (Oh Just One) that is intended to replace Google. In order to obtain an account on the state-approved mail service, users will have to register their identity with the government.
According to an article published by Fast Company in February, Iran's national Internet system represents one of the "most ambitious effort[s] yet by any government to censor the Internet." The content available over the national network will be tightly controlled. It will block access to foreign websites and services for communicating with the outside world.
The Iranian government has steadily increased the intensity of its Internet censorship efforts. It's a response to the increasingly important role that the Internet has played in enabling political dissent and unencumbered communication. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently established a Supreme Council of Cyberspace to regulate Iran’s new Internet.
Cleric Hamid Shahriari, who is a member of the council, said the group was “worried about a portion of cyberspace that is used for exchanging information and conducting espionage,” according to an article published last month by the Wall Street Journal.
The complaint about espionage is likely a reference to Stuxnet, an unusual computer virus that was designed to sabotage industrial machinery. The virus wreaked havoc on Iran’s controversial nuclear program, reportedly setting it back by as much as two years. The attack proved to be a major embarrassment for the country. Ars Technica was among the news sites banned in Iran after reporting on the incident.
Reporters Without Borders characterized Iran’s national Internet scheme as “frequently announced and always postponed” in its 2012 report due to frequent deployment delays. The group says that Iran’s existing Internet filtering system, which the government uses to selectively block access to websites and social networks, already represents an extreme form of Internet censorship. The national Internet plan, says Reporters Without Borders, is likely just a political gesture at this point.
Recent reports that claimed the Iranian government will deploy the network within five months are said to be inaccurate. According to AFP, reports of an August launch date were likely based on a hoax and have since been denied by government officials. The actual timeline for the launch is still unknown.
Iranians currently rely on proxies and other related tools to circumvent the country’s existing censorship system. It’s unclear if such methods will continue to work if the country eventually manages to put its national Internet plan into practice.
Update: the article was updated to indicate that the launch of the national network is not planned for August as was previously reported.
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