January 19, 2022
An Iranian lawmaker has said that the Islamic Republic should emulate China’s “success” in creating a unique national intranet to control the cyberspace.
Iran’s hardliner parliament has been discussing ways to intensify Internet censorship by establishing an intranet that would essentially ban foreign social media networks which allow Iranians to receive uncensored information and communicate with others.
The government has blocked thousands of websites in Iran for nearly 20 years both for ideological and political reasons. Almost all news and political websites not controlled by the government are inaccessible except by special software people need to use to get around the filtering.
Ali Yazdikhah, representing the capital Tehran, said on Tuesday that Iran should learn from China and Russia in restricting access to the Internet. His remarks came as Iran has signed a 25-year cooperation agreement with China and is expected to expand cooperation in many areas.
Facebook, You Tube and Twitter are also blocked. Instagram is the only major international platform still accessible, which Iranians use extensively to conduct ecommerce. This is one major impediment to parliament’s plan for shutting down all foreign social media networks.
Yazdikhah mentioned that plans call for free domestic intranet for users who have to pay to have access to foreign sites and platforms “without restriction”, but this is highly unlikely given the sensitivity of the clerical regime.