Iran has connected all its government agencies to a secure domestic Internet service and plans to link ordinary Iranians up to the same network, an official was quoted as saying on Sunday, in a move to beef up cyber security.
The Islamic state tightened its cyber security after its disputed nuclear program was attacked in 2010 by the Stuxnet
computer worm, which caused centrifuges to fail at the main Iranian uranium enrichment
Tehran, whose nuclear program
is suspected by the West of being aimed at developing a bomb, accused the United States and Israel of deploying
"In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices… have been connected to the national information network," Deputy Communications and Technology Minister Ali Hakim-Javadi was quoted as saying on Sunday by the Mehr news agency.
According to Iranian
media, the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013 but it was not clear whether access to the global Internet would be cut once the secure Iranian system was rolled out.
Millions of websites deemed to have un-Islamic content are blocked by Iranian authorities, along with many expressing anti-government views.
Blocked? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Many Iranians suffered serious problems accessing email and Internet social networking sites in February, ahead of parliamentary elections.
Opposition supporters used social networking sites to organize widespread protests after the disputed 2009 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
which they said was rigged in his favor.
Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour said last month Iran needed to develop its own network to ensure the safety of the country's information, the Fars news agency reported.
"Especially on major issues and during crises, one cannot trust this network at all," he said, referring to the global Internet. "Control over the Internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries."
Tehran further announced that it plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network in what officials said was a bid to improve civilian cyber security, but which many Iranians fear is the latest way to control their access to the web.
The announcement, made by a government deputy minister on Sunday, came as state television announced Google Inc's search engine and its email service would be blocked "within a few hours."
"Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice," an official identified only by his last name, Khoramabadi, said, without giving further details.
The Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) said Google ban was connected to the anti-Islamic film posted on the company's YouTube site which has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world. There was no official confirmation.
Iran has one of the biggest Internet filters of any country in the world, preventing normal Iranians from accessing countless sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal.
But many Iranians believe the block on sites such as Facebook and YouTube is due to their use in anti-government protests after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in 2009.
Sites expressing views considered anti-government are also routinely blocked.
Iranian officials have long spoken of creating an Iranian Internet system which would be largely isolated from the World Wide Web.
According to Iranian media, the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013 but it was not clear whether access to the global Internet would be cut once the Iranian system is rolled out.
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