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Iran moves towards ‘national Internet’

Iran blocked access to Google's popular and relatively secure Gmail service on Monday amid first steps by the Islamic republic to establish a walled-off national Intranet separate from the world-wide Internet. Access to Google's search page [www.google.com] was also restricted to its unsecured version, web users in Iran found.

Iran is working on rolling out its national Internet that, it says, will be clean of 'un-Islamic' content. Officials claim that it will be faster and more secure, even though users' data will be more easily subject to monitoring.

Despite fears by Iranians that the new Internet would supplant the Internet, Mohammad Soleimani, a lawmaker heading a parliamentary communication committee, was quoted this week as saying that 'the establishment of the “National Internet” will not cut access to the Internet'.

The curbs were announced in a mobile phone text message quoting Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, an adviser to Iran's public prosecutor's office and secretary of an official group tasked with detecting Internet content deemed illegal. 'Due to the repeated demands of the people, Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide. They will remain filtered until further notice,' the message read.

However, Google's own web site tracking country-by-country access to its services did not immediately reflect the blocks. But several residents in Tehran said that they were unable to get into their Gmail accounts unless they used a virtual private network  software.

Iranian authorities previously and temporarily cut access to Google and Gmail in February, ahead of March parliamentary elections.
AFP

AFP

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