In a bid to improve its cyber security, Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network. The government deputy minister has announced on Sunday on state television that Google’s search engine and its email service would be blocked “within a few hours”.
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.
Iranians commonly overcome the government filter by using virtual private network ( VPN) software that makes the computer appear as if it is based in another country.
But officials have long spoken of creating an Iranian Internet system which would be largely isolated from the World Wide Web.
“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 by the Mehr news agency.
The second phase of the plan would be to connect ordinary Iranians to the national network, he said.
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.