Iran’s communications and technology minister recently announced that the country has completed the first phase of its plan to introduce domestic internet. The announcement came during the inauguration ceremony for the project held on 28th August 2016.
According to the minister, the main aim of the initiative is to create affordable internet access to people featuring high-quality and high-speed connections. However, many critics are opposed to the move citing that the true aim of the project is to monitor what the citizens of the country are doing online. They termed it as a prohibitory move that robs the citizens of their right to access information.
The country has already blocked Facebook and Twitter access just like China. According to many critics, a government controlled internet would just make the situation worse. There are wide speculations that there will be severe limits to how people interact online, which could also lead to erosion of privacy and individual control.
The project, which is dubbed, National Information Network is already behind schedule by one year. The plan is divided into three phases. The first phase involves the initial launch, which has already happened. The second phase will see the domestic video services launched on the platform at the beginning of 2017 and the third phase will follow with an introduction of national and independent communication system. The whole project should be complete by March 2017.
However, the government is contradicting with the speculations terming the project as a beneficial one with an aim to create an intranet that will be used to popularize Islamic content and also increase digital knowledge among Iranians. According to Mr Vaezi, the new project will replace the internet, which is full of inappropriate content. The government seeks to limit the access of the current internet via filters. All the national events and services will be included in the domestic internet.
Mr Vaezi further added that the initiative would help the government control cyber security threats citing recent efforts to combat server DDOD attacks that were witnessed a while ago. The ministry confirmed that the citizens’ privacy will be respected throughout. However, many human rights organizations have questioned the Iranian government’s sincerity with the project fearing that there would be a breach of people’s privacy and freedom of communication.