Iran’s state-run daily Kayhan, a mouthpiece of supreme leader Ali Khamenei, displayed a telling reaction to the failure of the regime’s plans to restrict the internet and replace it with a state-controlled system. The regime calls its initiative the ‘Cyberspace Users Rights Protection Plan.’
“While many countries around the world have enacted laws in the field of cyberspace, the plan to legalize cyberspace met with a thought-provoking fate that needs to be explored,” the paper lamented.
The reference to “thought-provoking fate” is a clear admission of the regime’s failure, which intended to hand over control of the internet to repressive forces and intelligence organizations, primarily to prevent future protests. Clearly, the regime’s main concern about open access to the internet was never the spread of “vulgarity or fraud” or “immorality” or “bad lessons for students”
From the regime’s perspective, no one in Iran should have access to the internet and free information to which the rest of the world has access. Many media outlets are banned, and many newspapers have been closed in Iran. All means of communication were blocked, limiting the population to only receive state propaganda.
The regime like any other dictatorship in the world imagines that it can close all the figurative doors and windows of the country and thus escape from the imminent fate of being overthrown. But hard realities show that something like this will not happen in the 21st century.
The internet and free information access are arguably some of the most valuable achievements of humanity. If in the past centuries someone could start a mass killing or destruction somewhere in the world without it being widely known, today something like this has become impossible.
The truth is that the world has become a village in which all people are informed about most developments. In such circumstances, governments can no longer hide their crimes and corruption from the public. Those who suffer the most from this new digital world are reactionary regimes that belong to the past.
The state-run daily Mardom Salary on February 27, 2022, wrote an article entitled, “Protection of nerves and psyche of society”. It warned about the costs of this regime’s internet bill and wrote:
“Naturally, the proposed plans and bills must have a reasonable relationship with the will of the surrounding community; Otherwise, we will see that the separation of inter-subjective and mutual understanding between the will of the society and the will of the government will upset the balance between the demands and the data of the system, which in the long run will cause irreparable damage and huge costs to Iran’s political and social structure.”
Of course, Khamenei’s sensitivity to cyberspace is understandable. He has not been able to monopolize it. That is why he constantly says that cyberspace is under the control of “the enemy”, primarily referring to the regime’s main opposition the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Kayhan desperately thought that the problem of this plan is in its name as it wrote: “There was a lack of taste in choosing the name of the plan as ‘Protection’. This was not the name of the plan at all, and ‘Protection’ later became the keyword for the destruction of the plan.”
After 43 years since the mullahs usurped power, everyone in Iran knows that the regime hides all its ominous intentions behind simple and innocent words. Therefore, this time the regime faced a huge protest and objection by the people, and until now it has not been able to implement this repressive plan.
Executing this plan in secrecy reveals the regime’s evil intentions. Kayhan showed the regime’s fear by saying:
“Today, cyberspace has become a powerful tool in the hands of the domination system [Western states], especially the Western and American intelligence apparatuses, which are using it to change people’s attitudes. Using this tool, the domination system is carrying out its activities much cheaper and less costly than hard fighting. It uses velvet coups and creates turmoil and insecurity in the social, political, and even economic environment of target communities.”
All this is to hide the regime’s real fears. The main worry for Tehran is the explosive atmosphere of society, the growing and expanding activities of the MEK’s Resistance Units, and the readiness of the people to overthrow the clerical regime once and for all.