On August 23, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei complained about the organization of the internet in a video conference with the government cabinet,
saying that despite the formation of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace and other measures, no serious measure has been done in this regard added: “This is an area that is being managed from outside, and we cannot leave people helpless.”
His comments indicated that he desired censorship in the norms of the regime. Fearing uprisings because of the regime’s though situation, he demanded that the country be cut off from the global internet and that the people should only have access to a national internet censored and controlled by the regime.
Shortly after that, lawmakers announced a new plan to “organize social media.”
The plan to “organize social media” was presented to the Presidium of the parliament to go public. According to the plan, which was presented with the signatures of more than 40 lawmakers, all foreign messengers must be registered through a domestic company in Iran. Th use of VPNs is considered a crime, and violators are sentenced to prison and fines.
According to the plan, an organization called the “Organizing Committee” will be set up to license the messengers, monitor their performance, and handle complaints. This institution consists of the head of the Cyberspace Center, the representative of the Ministries of Communication, Culture and Guidance, Intelligence, the Attorney General, the Cultural Commission, Radio and Television, IRGC Intelligence, the Propaganda Organization, the police, and the passive defense organization.
Nearly all the regime’s intelligence and security forces are included in this observation. But this project shows that the regime’s efforts for the implementation of the National Information Network (NIN) have failed and now it is forced to take such measures.
But the ridiculous part of the story is that a member of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace named Rasoul Jalili, in a recent interview with the state-run news agency Mehr, revealed a new expression “Citizen of the country’s cyberspace”, and said that the state police must think about the passport of foreign people who want to become a member of the country’s cyberspace.
While pointing to the possible interest of the people to, “Living in the land of Iranian cyberspace” he suggested, “this living must be legal.”
H added: “Since these people do not enter cyberspace through a real airport and the immigration police do not check it, different rules for entering cyberspace are required. Here we have to know the problem and formulate a solution to it.”
Since the NIN plan began, the issue of authentication has also been raised. This new ” Citizen of the country’s cyberspace” plan can also be defined under the same issue of authentication. They say that everyone who browses the Iranian Internet, both Iranians and foreigners, must be authenticated.
Fada Hossein, Member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee of the regime’s Parliament, in an interview with ICANA on 26 August while showing the regime’s fear about the cyberspace said:
“Undoubtedly, there are concerns about cyberspace. The orders of the Supreme Leader in this regard are also the chapter of speech. Addressing the government, the Supreme Leader also explained the importance of managing and controlling cyberspace, but in addition to controlling threats, cyberspace opportunities must also be seized.
“The government and parliament must move in the direction of managing cyberspace while addressing the concerns of families, and this does not mean blocking cyberspace networks, so our red line is the leadership’s orders in this regard.
“Mr. Azari Jahromi should pay attention to the criticisms and grievances of the representatives and while managing and controlling cyberspace, minimize the threats, and provide the conditions for exploiting the opportunities of cyberspace.
“We are not afraid of foreign social networks. But the scope of the activity must be determined so that the privacy of individuals and families is not violated.”
Internet Censorship and Repression in Iran’s Clerical Regime