September 24, 2012
Iran Blocks Google, Moves Forward With Domestic Network Plans
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Iran moved forward with their previously discussed plans for a domestic version of the Internet over the weekend, as government officials announced that Google would be one of the first websites to be filtered through their state-controlled information network.
According to Reuters, officials are claiming that the country's self-contained version of the World Wide Web, which was first announced last week, is part of an initiative to improve cyber security. However, it will reportedly also give the country the ability to better control the type of information that users can access online.
The first move in that direction came Sunday night, as a government deputy minister identified only as Khoramabadi announced that the Google search engine, as well as their Gmail online email service, would be blocked "within a few hours" and would remain filtered "throughout the country until further notice.".
Reuters said that there were unconfirmed reports by the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) that the ban was connected to an anti-Islamic video posted on Google's YouTube video sharing website. That video has led to widespread protests and violence throughout the Middle East, including attacks resulting in the deaths of a US ambassador and three other Americans in Libya earlier this month.
CNET's Michelle Meyers also reported Sunday that Iranian officials had confirmed that government agencies had already been connected to the "national information network," and that a deputy minister said that the next step would likely be to connect the population en masse to the filtered Internet.
That revelation is "in line with a report from April that the country was planning a national intranet within five months in an effort to create 'a clean Internet," Meyers said. "That report was later denied, but reports of an Iranian Internet system isolated from the Web have continued to surface. Iranian media say the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013," she continued, adding that it was "still unclear whether access to the World Wide Web would be cut once the Iranian system is rolled out."
As of Sunday night, Google had yet to respond to Meyers' request for comment.
"The idea of a self-contained Internet isn´t a new one in the Middle-Eastern country, as Iran has been contemplating such a network for nearly 10 years now," redOrbit.com's own Michael Harper said on Friday. "Though such a move could prevent further attacks on the country, the cost to build out this network could be a hefty one. In addition to building out the infrastructure and laying the groundwork for this massive project, the country would also have to devise and then pay for a security system to ensure these attackers aren´t allowed access."