Iran blocks Google in preparation for domestic internet service
Iran is preparing to move its citizens to a new domestic internet network in what the government claims is an attempt to rebuff cyber security threats.
Officials have also confirmed a block on Google and their products, such as Gmail.
Speaking on Sunday, Deputy Government Minister Abdolsamad Khoramabadi said Google would be inaccessible “within a few hours”. He added: “Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice.”
Iran has long operated a strict filtering of the Internet, preventing people from accessing popular social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
Although the government claim they are protecting citizens, many believe they are simply suppressing free speech following the 2009 protests, believed to have been organised via social media.
Speculations are rife that plans for an internal Internet system in Iran, independent of the World Wide Web, have been in the works for months.
Minister of Communication and Information Technology Reza Taqipour confirmed that Iran planned to introduce a domestic network, as: “Internet should not be in the hands of one or two specific countries.”
“The establishment of the national intelligence network will create a situation where the precious intelligence of the country won’t be accessible to these powers”, Taqipour told FARS news agency.
Iranian media believe that the domestic system will be fully implemented by March 2013, but it is not clear whether access to the global internet will also be cut off then.
Many citizens, however, commonly overcome government filters by using Virtual Private Network (VPN) software that makes the computer appear as if it is based in another country.
“In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices have been connected to the national information network”, Deputy Communications and Technology Minister Ali Hakim-Javadi said to Mehr news agency.
According to Reuters, The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) said they believe the Google ban was connected to the anti-Islamic film posted on YouTube that has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world. There has been no official confirmation.