Iranians’ access to Google Search and Gmail has been cut, as announced by the state television. Although coming through as unconfirmed at the moment, Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) said that the ban on the popular Google services “was connected to the anti-Islamic film posted on the company's YouTube site which has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world”.
Reports confirm that the country is in the process of shifting its citizens to a domestic Internet network, in what it claims to be an attempt at improving cyber security. Without disclosing any further, an official identified only by his last name, Khoramabadi, said, “Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice.”
Access to Google Search and Gmail blocked (Image credit: Getty Images)
Going further, reports indicate that the Internet filters operational in Iran are one of the biggest of any country in the world, preventing normal Iranians from accessing countless sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal. “.. many Iranians believe the block on sites such as Facebook and YouTube is due to their use in anti-government protests after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in 2009,” it added further.
The latest move by the country prods a slight recap. In April, this year, Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, Reza Taghipour had affirmed that by August, millions of Internet users in the country would be cut off the Internet permanently, thereby disconnecting them from services such as e-mail and social networking. At the time, a report by International Business Times confirms that the block on the Internet, will deter a user’s access to popular sites such as Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo! and Hotmail, in a bid to facilitate the government’s intention of establishing ‘clean Internet’. The statement cites the government’s decision to resurrect a national intranet by that time. Once the first phase of the project is rolled out next month, the aforementioned sites will be blocked completely for Internet users in Iran and will instead be replaced with government Intranet services like Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine.
The report went on to add further that the final phase of this procedure will come in August, which is when the proposed complete block will take effect. However, a report that emerged the following day that Iran would shut off all Internet services by August and set up a local intranet was called a hoax by the Iranian government. A report by AFP had affirmed the Iranian government has issued a statement saying that the interview with Taghipour was a hoax, which they put on their own website, www.ict.gov.ir and is not accessible outside Iran. The ministry statement said that the report is in no way confirmed by the ministry and is completely baseless.
Iranians already have a walled Internet and many Internet users access forbidden sites via Virtual Private Networks or VPNs.