The Iranian regime attempts to control the flow and consumption of information into the country and Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, believes the Internet is “used by the enemy to target Islamic thinking.” Control of the information and news available to the public is believed to facilitate the regime’s hold over Iranian society, Track Persia notes.
However, the growth of the internet and social media have challenged the Iranian regime. Iranians are able to utilize virtual private networks (VPNs) to sidestep censorship, as well as encrypted social media platforms to communicate and organize.
Recently, social media services to locate have been required to locate their servers inside Iran, in an effort to curb this activity. To combat media independence, in move that bodes poorly for Internet freedom in Iran, the Iranian regime wants to implement a strategy that combines existing press regulations with new laws to govern media.
Gerdab.ir, a website run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which is dedicated to cyber issues, has published the outline of the strategy.
The Iranian regime appears to justify its control over the media by saying that it is the regime’s role to define the parameters of acceptable culture. Additionally, it is expected that a common law to govern social media will be more efficient than the patchwork approach heretofore employed by the regime.
The outline of the new legal framework seems to promote the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, to the detriment of the Passive Defense Organization, the subdivision of the IRGC which traditionally oversaw Iranian cyber defense.
However, in terms of operations, this does not mean a disempowerment of the Passive Defense Organization, but rather a diminishment of its influence in shaping policy. In fact, the need for greater internal monitoring most likely means further empowerment and resourcing of the Passive Defense Organization.
Lastly, the proposal suggests that the Islamic Republic seeks to revive the idea of a national intranet, cut-off from the wider world. This proposal was popular in Iran a decade ago but was, at the time, not workable.
It now appears, however, that the Islamic Republic might seek to use new technologies and new regulations such as the requirement that services base their equipment inside Iran in order to try again. That Iranian authorities can build upon lessons from similar Chinese, Cuban, and Vietnamese attempts, make Iran’s forthcoming attempt to unplug itself from the rest of the world more serious than in the past.
However, regime might try again, by using new technologies and new regulations, such as the requirement that services base their equipment inside Iran. Iran regime’s desperate new attempt to unplug itself from the rest of the world appears to be more serious than it has been in the past but is doomed to failure as well.
The Iranian government has long sought to control the flow and consumption of information, especially given the social engineering component to the ideology at the heart of the Islamic Republic.
Simply put, the Iranian leadership believes that control of the information and news available to the public will facilitate the regime’s goal to transform society by removing alternative social and political models in the public conscience.