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Iran plans to completely block its citizens from accessing the web by August. By then it hopes to restrict access to its own sanitised, internal Intranet.
According to the International Business Times, the first phase of the project will be rolled out in May, during which services from the likes of Yahoo!, Google, and Hotmail will be replaced by Iran Search and Iran email.
According to Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology the changes are in line with the country’s bid for a “clean internet”.
The government has reportedly started with the registration process for getting Iran Mail ID. According to International Business Times, this “mandates authentic information pertaining to a person’s identity, including national ID, address and full name”.
“All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August,” Taghipour said. ISP’s already face heavy penalties if they allow access to banned sites.
Iran first unveiled the plan for an exclusively national internet in March 2011. At the time the information minister said justified the decision saying that the internet “promotes crime, disunity, unhealthy moral content, and atheism”.
At the time, the Washington-based Iranian group the National Iranian American Council, slammed the idea by calling it what it is: “Repressive”.
Government officials have also previously called social media a threat to Islam and Iranian society.
In 2011, Iran was ranked the least free internet country on earth. Hardly surprising, given that it has been clamping down on internet freedom since 2009. In the wake of protests around the presidential elections, the country arrested more than 50 bloggers that posted “offensive” opinions online, thereby violating newly created laws such as the Computer Crime Law.