The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) reported that Iran’s regime continues to face complications over its controversial internet censorship plan, dubbed the “Cyberspace Users Rights Protection” act, as the bill will return to the Majlis (parliament) floor to be discussed by lawmakers in an open session.
The decision came after 120 MPs voted in favor and 109 voted against the move in a closed session.
While the details have yet to be revealed, it is clear that the regime is facing a quandary as to how to implement its plans to restrict access to internet services.
Alireza Salimi, a member of the Majlis presidium, has told state media that a new joint commission will probably be convened to discuss the details of the bill. Meanwhile, other MPs have told the media that the vote was just a survey to see the general sentiment of the Majlis toward the bill.
In any case, what is clear is that, after being passed around between the Majlis and the executive branch, adopting the internet censorship bill has become a serious challenge for the regime.
On the one hand, given the explosive state of society, the regime direly needs to increase restrictions on internet access. On the other hand, regime leaders and officials are trying to figure out how to navigate the challenges that the plan will entail.
Reports indicate that the regime has already started to silently implement new restrictions by throttling internet bandwidth and increasing the prices of ISPs.
Those who insist on implementing the bill argue that the regime won’t be able to suppress the increasingly restive society if it does not impose total control on internet traffic.
In recent years, Iranian protesters have used social media platforms and internet services to broadcast pictures and videos of nationwide uprisings and the brutality of Iranian security forces.
At the same time, Iranians across the country are using encrypted messaging platforms to organize protests and communicate with the Iranian opposition.
The regime’s fear of the internet was put on full display by Ahmad Alamalhoda, the representative of regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei in Mashhad, who addressed the internet bill in his April 8 Friday prayers sermon.
“The situation is very dangerous! The enemy is under our nose! The enemy is in our throat and has taken over everything and you’re still dithering. What are you waiting for?” he warned.
Previously, Khamenei himself had voiced his concern over the “unregulated state” of the internet and called for more restrictions on the free flow of information in and out of Iran.
But those who are showing reluctance toward the bill have three main arguments:
First, since the businesses and livelihoods of many Iranians depend deeply on social media platforms, these officials warn that restricting access to these services will turn into a “national security” problem and can trigger more protests.
These officials propose that instead of restricting internet access perpetually, the regime should work on a plan to cut off internet access when regional or nationwide protests take place.
Second, restriction of internet access will come with a heavy economic penalty for the regime, which itself relies heavily on foreign internet services for its economic activities.
According to the regime’s own reports, the internet blackout imposed during the 2019 nationwide protests caused billions of dollars worth of damage to the economy.
And finally, many regime officials are pointing out that the internet censorship plan is technically not viable.
Former communications minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi warned on February 27 that the internet censorship bill will actually accelerate the process of satellite internet technology finding its way into Iran.
Regardless of how the regime proceeds with its plans to restrict internet access, it has placed itself on a path that will inevitably lead it to another major confrontation with the Iranian people.
Source » einnews