Iran to develop “clean” internet with Chinese help

Iran to develop “clean” internet with Chinese help

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 22

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iran, who has been pursuing an aggressive Internet strategy giving it tight control of the country's cyber space, is to get even tougher with help from China.

Both countries share the same viewpoints regarding limiting Internet access to its citizens, claiming that a "clean Internet" should be established across the world. China said it was ready to help Iran achieve this goal. Cited on Iran's Communications and Information Technology Ministry, an official said China would help Iran implement its National Information Network.

"China has four decades of good experiences in the information technology area, said Nasrollah Jahangard, head of Information Technology Organization.

Reporters Without Borders' 2013 Press Freedom Index indicates that from among 179 countries in the world, China and Iran rank 173rd and 174th in terms of freedom of access to media and information.

China earlier supplied Iran with equipment used to control Internet access. China's ZTE Company had signed a contract with Iran to provide more than $130 million in surveillance and interception equipment in 2010.

There was also another 2010 deal for China to sell Iran "deep packet inspection" technologies that could monitor Internet communications.

Iran now finds China a useful ally in implementing it "Big Brother" policy.

Since 2005 Iran has been reportedly developing its National Information Network or National Intranet to improve control over its content as well as speed. The project, which is separate from the World Wide Web is scheduled to be completed by the end of the fifth five-year development plan (2011-15). This network will be separated from the rest of the internet and is specifically for domestic use.

Creating such a network, similar to one used by North Korea, would prevent unwanted information from outside of Iran getting into the closed system.

Authorities claim the "national Internet" would not lead to a cut in Internet access. But critics warn it could allow the government to cut off access to foreign sites, restricting access to information and preventing users from sharing information online.

Earlier experiences indicate that concerns over the issue are realistic. Iranian officials have accused U.S.-based technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter of working in tandem with U.S. authorities to spy on Iranian online trends.

On Nov. 20, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. administration had hoped to manage to overthrow Iran's regime with the help of social networks such as Tweeter and Facebook referring to the presidential election protests in 2009.

The Iranian authorities banned Facebook and Twitter in the summer of 2009 when former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election victory sparked off massive protests that gained momentum with the help of organizers using social media.

Iranian authorities try to put a positive spin on the national internet claiming that the internet speed and bandwidth as well as the security will be increased by launching the National Internet.

On September 17, Iranian deputy Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Ali Hakim Javadi said that licenses for providing 2 Mbps speed internet to home users have been issued.

In the first phase of the project, some 400,000 home users will be separated from internet and connected to national intranet with speed up to 2 Mbps, he added.

Hakim Javadi went on to note that, with this project the access speed to domestic websites will increase, resulting in an expansion of Iranian websites.

However, it will be difficult for Iranian officials to replace the Internet completely with the National Network as all efforts to restrict or block access to significant internet sites has not been successful in recent years.

Edited by C.N.

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