If you’re a government that believes the Internet “promotes crime, disunity, unhealthy moral content, and atheism” there seem to be two options: unplug or roll your own.
Reports are appearing that indicate Iran’s going with the latter and will launch of a countrywide intranet to save the masses from online evils.
Via the International Business Times:
Millions of Internet users in Iran will be permanently denied access to the World Wide Web and cut off from popular social networking sites and email services, as the government has announced its plans to establish a national Intranet within five months.
In a statement released Thursday, Reza Taghipour, the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, announced the setting up of a national Intranet and the effective blockage of services like Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo and Hotmail, in line with Iran’s plan for a “clean Internet.”
The government is set to roll out the first phase of the project in May, following which Google, Hotmail and Yahoo services will be blocked and replaced with government Intranet services like Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine. At this stage, however, the World Wide Web, apart from the aforementioned sites, will still be accessible.
In a follow-up, the IBT reports that Iran’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology denies they’ll block Iranians’ access to the wider Web and blames information about it on Western propaganda.
The idea of an Iranian Internet isn’t new. Last year, Al Jazeera among others reported that the effort was in the works, with Technology Review writing:
It would be unlikely, but not technically impossible, for Iran to step up its censorship and filtering regime to create this “halal Internet.” After all, most Cubans, for example, are priced out of the actual Internet and steered towards the Cuban equivalent, which is restricted to an internal e-mail network, and a handful of pro-government sites. In a similar vein, the Chinese Internet is limited largely only to websites that the government doesn’t view as threatening.