With the severe failure of domestically produced social networks and the non-use of them by Iranian users, now, after nearly three years, the plan to organize and control social media is on the agenda of the regime’s parliament. Now, after the Presidential elections, it seems that parliament will enact different laws in order to organize foreign social networks, which was predictable with the entry of Ebrahim Raisi into the government as the new president.

The plan to protect the rights of users in cyberspace and organize social media will be reviewed this week in the parliament and by the deputies. Emphasis on the authentication of internal users, the need to obtain permission and cooperation of foreign messengers and social networks, criminalization of users’ activities on blocked and filtered social networks, and dealing with people who provide filtering bypass tools are among the provisions of this plan.

The reviewed plan in the Iranian parliament will have a significant impact on users’ online activities on social networks. While many of the world’s most active social networks are filtered in Iran and are virtually impossible or very difficult to access, lawmakers, are seeking to create more barriers for users to access social networks, which is the result of a regime’s extreme tight situation, seeking to block and control any connection between the people self and the opposition outside the country if any new protests occur.

 What are the important points of this plan?

  • Foreign social networks will be blocked if they do not take the necessary measures to register and comply with domestic laws within two months after the approval of this bill in the parliament.
  • Great emphasis on authentication of social network users, this clause will be in order to maintain more security.
  • People who sell the tools needed to reach blocked social networks and websites are considered guilty and they are dealt with legally.
  • Users who enter social networks which are blocked and filtered after the passage of this bill are considered a crime and they will be dealt with in the form of punishments, including fines and imprisonment.
  • External messenger bandwidth is reduced to half that of internal messengers.
  • The Armed Forces will be tasked with managing the Internet gateway
  • If this plan is approved, a working group much larger than the working group for determining criminal cases will be in charge of filtering.

The above-mentioned cases are part of the most prominent clauses of this plan, which was signed by 40 members of parliament, and which is now going to be approved by the deputies. If the plan is approved, the regime will take a step further to repress the people’s privacy and freedom of speech.

On this issue, the state-run daily Etemad wrote:

Parliament last week reviewed the plan, ‘Protection of users’ rights in cyberspace and organizing social media’ was on the agenda. In this plan, the activities of individuals, organizations, etc. in banned messengers is considered a crime.

“The experience of blocking cyberspace, whether social networks or messengers, shows that it has had no result other than damaging public trust and hurting small businesses. Of course, the recent plan of the parliament has a wider scope of destruction and according to the secretary of the Internet Business Association, it can destroy up to 300,000 small and home businesses. If we assume that on average three people run each of these businesses, up to 900,000 people will be laid off with extensive filtering.” (State-run daily Etemad, June 26, 2021)