Iran starts phasing in national internet

منبع: telecompaper
Iran has announced that it has completed the first phase of its plan to operate a "national internet", which was inaugurated on 28 August by  Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi, report state news agency Irna and Mehr news agency. The initiative will offer high quality and high speed connections at low costs. Critics say the true aim is to tighten the authorities' control over citizens' use of the net.
According to a report by Mehr, the first phase involves providing access to e-government services and domestic web pages. A second phase, due in February 2017, will add domestic video content and a third phase, due in March 2017, will introduce other services and provide support for companies involved in international trade. Local reports state that users' privacy will be respected.
The idea behind the project was first made public in 2010, and it was originally intended to be fully operational by 2015. The government says the goal is to create an isolated domestic intranet that can be used to promote Islamic content and raise digital awareness among the public.
It intends to replace the current system, in which officials seek to limit which parts of the existing internet people have access to via filters - an effort Vaezi described as being inefficient. He said all domestic activities, services, applications and various types of content are included in the national internet. The minister added that the initiative would make it easier to combat cyber-threats.
According to the agencies, although Iran already blocks access to overseas-based social media services - including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook - many users still access them via proxy sites and virtual private networks (VPNs).