Sunday, March 11, 2012

A'jad to lead Iranian effort to censor Internet use

From Al Arabiya:
The Iranian minister of communication and technology accused Western nations of using the internet as a tool for spying and spreading corruption, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, the Western states, the U.S. on top of them, are using the internet for spying and spreading corruption on Earth, but Iran has started a movement in administering internet use and will definitely limit such (Western) misuses through the aid and assistance of (the world) free circles,” Reza Taqipour was quoted by Fars news agency as saying at a meeting with the Iraqi minister of Communication Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi.

“The Internet should be at all states’ service and not for Western economic misuses and demonization of other states,” Taqipour added.

Taqhipour announced that Iran will within weeks launch a “halal” network that will provide Iranians with a safe environment to surf the web as it will be “clean” of “immoral” sites.

Iranian officials have said in the past that the Internet could open the nation to a cultural invasion from the West and make it vulnerable to computer viruses, such as the Stuxnet worm that attacked its nuclear facilities. Many believe the malware was created by Israel or the United States to block Iran’s nuclear progress.

In January, Iran’s head of police, Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam, stated that Google is not a search engine but rather an instrument for spying.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday ordered the creation of a new government agency to monitor cyberspace in an aggressive step in the ongoing crackdown on online activities by ordinary Iranians.

Khamenei issued a decree calling for a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, an entity that would be headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and would include other top Iranian officials, including the intelligence chief and the head of the Revolutionary Guards.

“Planning and constant coordination” of the Internet are needed “to prevent its damages and consequences,” the decree said. The council should have “a constant and comprehensive monitoring over the domestic and international cyberspace,” it added.

Iranians have grappled with increased obstacles to using the Internet since opposition supporters used social networking sites to organize widespread protests after the disputed 2009 re-election of Ahmadinejad.
It's a neat trick to impose censorship and spy on local activists' Internet usage in the name of "morality."

It is unclear if this "halal" network is completely self-contained or just heavily censored. If it is really an Iranian intranet, with no connectivity to the world, then any viruses that do happen to get introduced (by USB or CD-ROM, for example) would spread far faster since every anti-virus program relies on updates over the Internet.

And I thought from reading that world-renowned Iran expert apologist Juan Cole that Khamenei hated Ahmadinejad. Why is he entrusting him with leading the nation's cyber-police?