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Iran reportedly preparing to launch new 'domestic' internet

New clampdowns on online expression are thought to be preparing citizens for a sanitised national intranet, launched within weeks.

Iranian journalism students use the Internet in a cafe in central Tehran. Iran is expected to launch a national intranet within weeks.
Iranian journalism students use the Internet in a cafe in central Tehran. Iran is expected to launch a national intranet within weeks.
Image: Vahid Salemi/AP

IRAN IS SET to launch its own ‘national internet’ in a matter of weeks, it is thought, after mounting a new clampdown on its citizens’ expression online.

The Iranian government has brought in new rules which will require members of the general public to hand over their personal details in exchange for entry to the country’s internet cafes.

Cafes will also be required to maintain a user’s full name, their father’s name, their national ID number, telephone number and postcode – and to keep such data on hand for six months.

Cafes have two weeks to comply with the new rules.

The Guardian suggests that the new controls are not designed to stamp out anonymous use of the internet – which was used by many opponents to organise protests against president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election win in 2009 – but rather to dissuade the larger public from using the internet to dissent.

Iranians had also complained in recent weeks about finding more and more websites being blocked, and of a general slowdown in the speed of their connections.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the combined measures are likely to herald the introduction of a ‘domestic intranet’ which could eventually replace all access to the internet at large.

It cited domestic media reports which claimed that it was testing of this new intranet which caused the decrease in internet speeds experienced by users this week.

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Similar intranets exists in other countries, including North Korea, which operates ‘Kwangmyong’ – a national intranet which connects all industries, museums, banks and government agencies.

Iran will go to the polls for parliamentary elections in early March – in a vote already boycotted by the main opposition parties. Ahmadinejad’s second term expires next year; he will be ineligible for re-election.

Ahmadinejad formerly maintained a blog at www.ahmadinejad.ir, which has disappeared in recent times.

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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