Iran is planning on on joining the list of nations abandoning the global internet for their own national intranet, and officials say that the transition may be completed by 2013.Iran’s head of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Reza Taqipour, speaking in a conference at Amir Kabir University, called the worldwide web “untrustworthy” and in the “hands of one or two specific countries”. Taqipour then explained that the country’s government ministries and state bodies will go offline this September part of an effort to protect national intelligence, Wired UK reports.
While many may perceive the move as a way to control content and perceptions in the authoritarian nation, recent events may have more to do with the shift. In 2010, the computer virus Stuxnet, an alleged joint operation between Israeli and American intelligence agencies, was used to disrupt about 1,000 centrifuges in Iran’s nuclear program, a program that may have been tampering with said centrifuges as early as 2008, Wired reports.
Then there was the Flame virus that, among other things, secretly monitored Iran’s computer networks. The virus was part of a cyber warfare project involving the CIA, National Security Agency, and Israel’s military, according to the Washington Post.
While details of Iran’s planned intranet are hard to come by, North Korea’s internet, and their control of information, may be looked to as a guide. The North Korean “Kwangmyong”, launched in 2000, has a few news groups, a browser, an email program, and a search engine. Only a select few have direct access to the web, most users finding it protected, much like the Chinese “great firewall”, reports the Economist.
And If Iran wants it citizens to use the service, Cuba could serve as an example. Its state-controlled intranet use rose 40% last year, with 2.6 million of the 11.2 million Cubans using the service, Reuters reports .
Oddly enough, the announcement to stop using the internet comes just a week after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei joined Instagram. Khamenei already has his own twitter page as well.
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