Two important developments with regard to the internet and Iran were publicized this week. The Iranian Minister of Communications and Information Technology, has announced that Iran's national internet will operate nationwide starting next week in all government offices. That is 42,000 offices to be precise.
He pointed out that initially offices in 29 of Iran's provinces were switched from the worldwide web to the new national internet and that by next week all would be moved over. The public would have access to this network at a later date.
There has been a lot of speculation and fear spread about this project since it was first announced a few years ago. Much of the western media with the help of Iranian-exile groups have constantly spread a narrative that the government's true aim was to cut the whole nation off from the internet and allow access only to this so-called intranet.
While the Iranian government on countless occasions has denied this claim the western media is sticking to this story. The government has named the real reason as security whereas foreign governments through the internet would use viruses or hack sensitive computers. In the last 2 years this has happened around 4 times with port facilities, nuclear plants, and oil terminals all being targeted with destruction.
I had mentioned in past articles that a friend of mine that works as a web-security specialist for an Iranian bank once told me that on any given day they have multiple attempts of hacking their databanks and records from external sources including foreign spy agencies. Why any nation would want two local computers only a few kilometers apart to pass along data that needs to first leave their borders and across continents passing through nations that are potential security threats before coming back home is beyond me.
Luckily, someone in the strategic planning department of Iran saw this need over 10 years ago and started it when they did. The other fear that Iran has is an ironic one. It is the same fear that they are accused of wanting to do, cutting Iran off from the internet.
Iran's economy is heavily modernized with most offices, retailers, banks, and facilities being linked into a network of computers. The fear is that one nation, the one that created the internet and holds the power to shut it off, could one day use this against them by closing Iran off from the world-wide web. The argument of cutting a nation off that doesn't see eye to eye with the US from the internet or cutting its access to GPS systems has been discussed in the past.
Tucked away at the end of an article by UPI about the nuclear talks in Istanbul was an announcement by a US-based group of former Bush era politicians and paid for by Israel which is trying to get the organizations that oversee the internet to block Iran's access to the web. The group called the "United Against Nuclear Iran" charged that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) maybe in violation of the US sanctions by allowing Iran to pursue in their words "its illegal and amoral activities". This group has been able to bully many multinational companies from cutting their ties to Iran. Their policy is usually to spend a week or two on one group or company and if their pressure doesn't work they then move on to a new one the week after.