Almost all Iranian citizens will soon be without Internet access, as the Iranian government has announced its intentions to build a national intranet within the coming months. With the implementation of the national intranet, Iran plans to block sites such as Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Gmail, effectively creating a ‘clean’ internet. Iran plans to unveil their plans in May.
Replacing the aforementioned sites will be Iran’s version of popular sites, such as Iran Search Engine and Iran Mail ID (which will require personal identification associated with each email account). The second stage of the rollout, which will be implemented in August, completely denies Iranians access to the Internet. ISPs in Iran must comply with strict filters set by the national government or they will face harsh penalties.
Scarier still, Iran is also taking measures to prevent citizens from reaching the unfiltered internet through proxy servers. Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, said last March that the Internet “promotes crime, disunity, unhealthy moral content, and atheism,” and that government’s goal is to eliminate the online “scourges.”
This national intranet sets a dangerous precedent for other authoritarian states. If Egypt had a similar system implemented before their revolution, I wonder if it would have had the same effect globally, as social media played a crucial role in the uprising. Iran even mentioned exporting their formula for internet filtering if it proves successful domestically. These are, surely, frightening times for citizens around the world.