A report that Iran will shut off all internet services by August and set up a local intranet has been called a hoax by the Iranian government. The report seemed to be a statement from the Iranian minister for Information and Communications Technology, Reza Taghipour. Now, however, according to a report by AFP, 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.
Iran is not launching a “National Internet” this August it seems
The original report said that the Iranian government will set up a 'clean Internet' by August. What this will mean for Iranians is access to websites like Google, social networking sites and e-mail will be cut off. To replace these services, Iran will set up their own search engine called Iran Search Engine and an e-mail service called Iran Mail. This blocking off will comprise the first phase of the shut down, with the final phase resulting in complete block off to come in August. The statement was first reported in the International Business Times. Furthermore, the government has not decided what will happen to websites other than Google, Gmail, Google Plus, Yahoo! and Hotmail. Users would discover the fate of other websites once the block off is complete. The government has already started registrations for Iran Mail.
The report added, “Foreign sites can still be accessed over the Intranet provided they are mentioned in a “white list” set up by the government. The government is also believed to be planning for better control on proxy servers which allow users to access banned sites.“
Iranians already have a walled internet and many internet users access forbidden sites via Virtual Private Networks or VPNs. Towards the end of February, Iran had blocked off even VPN services, which reports say was timed just ahead of elections. Access to generic sites, like Google Docs was cut off. In particular, sites that used Secure Socket Protocol, or, in other words, had addresses that contained https:// were seemed to have been affected. The elections took place on the 2nd of March and it had been the first time since 2009 that Iran had a national election. Earlier in February, Iran had disrupted Internet access when the fear of “National Internet” started making the rounds. Back then too, Taghipour made a statement that there will be a national Internet, which will be a clean internet. For instance, the search engine would be called Ya Haq, which means “Oh just one”.