May 30, 2011

A ‘Halal’ Internet

Hackers and Crackers Start Your Engines…

The Wall Street Journal and other sources are reporting on the government of Iran’s plans to create its own internet. The regime already controls the speed of its internet, keeping it artificially low. Since 2005, they have also been planning to create a closed internet, a la China and other repressive governments, with content controlled by various ministries and with separate e-commerce access.

Cyrus Farivar at The Internet is Elsewhere quotes the current head of economic affairs in Iran, Ali Aghamohammadi:

“Iran will soon create an internet that conforms to Islamic principles, to improve its communication and trade links with the world,” he said, apparently explaining that the new network would operate in parallel to the regular Internet and would possibly eventually replace the open Internet in Muslim countries in the regions.

“We can describe it as a genuinely ‘halal’ network aimed at Muslims on a ethical and moral level,” he said.

Arseh Sevom board member, Fred Petrossian, comments in the Wall Street Journal:

“It might not be possible to cut off Iran and put it in a box,” said Fred Petrossian, who fled Iran in the 1990s and is now online editor of Radio Farda, which is Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Iranian news service. “But it’s what they’re working on.”

Iran’s head of economic affairs compares Iran’s efforts to those of China. “China did amazing work developing content for its own population. Chinese is currently the second language on the Internet after English.”

The Iran Media Program presents an overview of the regime’s efforts to develop a “halal” or “clean” internet, concluding:

…[T]he Halal, Clean or National Internet is not for the purpose of promoting an electronic state, but the main purpose is to expand control over the cyberspace and regulating it as per the terms required by the Iranian authorities. This is why there are legitimate reasons for the various protests of Iranian internet users against such projects.

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