Iran parliament approves internet censorship bill

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Yesterday, Iran’s parliament approved a bill to ban foreign messengers and deepen internet censorship. During the unofficial parliamentary session, 121 members voted in favor, and 74 members voted against the bill.

Talks of the new “bill for the Protection of Cyberspace Users” started in early June. According to RSF, the bill is inspired by China and aims to reinforce existing digital barriers to prevent access to social networks and free internet, or in other words, “digital discrimination”.

After the passing of the bill, it will be forwarded to the Cultural Commission, where it can be put in pilot implementation. The pilot implementation will last between three to five years before it is finalized.

The main goal of the plan will be to limit social and messenger apps, especially Instagram. Instagram, used widely by Iranians, is not filtered in Iran.

In the past week, state-run media have been writing of replacing Instagram with national apps and have advertised several alternatives to Instagram in their websites.

The state-run Iran Student Polling Agency (ISPA) said on July 27 that 53% of adult users use Instagram.

Iranians protested the censorship plan on Twitter. The state-run economic Tejaratnews website wrote on July 24 that the plan would destroy businesses that use the internet.

The state-run ISNA News Agency also said the bill would create problems since Iranians using the internet for business have increased. It said many brands offer their products on the internet, including many small and home-based businesses. According to the report, members of the Chamber of Commerce have warned of possible consequences of the new bill.

“A national network is not a bad idea, but to disconnect from the outside world by creating a barrier on social media apps will create problems in the future,” said the Head of the Information Technology Commission.

On June 25, an Iranian IT website wrote the new plan would create “fundamental changes” in how app messengers, users, and internet monitoring and bandwidth operate. The plan would require national and foreign messengers to register in one place and abide by Iran’s rules. All messengers must also receive permission from a new controlling entity called Organizing and Monitoring. This entity will be tasked with deciding on what will be filtered, registered, and monitored among other duties. The entity will also issue the order to authenticate users according to policies provided by Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace.

After the bill is passed, all apps must follow the new law, otherwise, they will be blocked by the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology.

What is in the new bill?

In addition to user authentication and further monitoring, the bill proposes that armed forces will manage internet gateways, and the bandwidth of foreign apps will be cut in half in comparison with national apps.

Users and apps will be banned from using blocked apps, and violations will lead to 7th-degree punishment and 6th-degree punishment in case of repeated breaches.

In Iran, 6th and 7th-degree punishments include prison, fines, lashes, and social rights deprivations.

The plan by Iran’s parliament also states that 10% of revenues from international internet traffic will be given to national apps, whereas foreign apps will be banned from business services, financial and bank services.

The full detailed plan has been published in Iran’s Laws and Regulation database.

A long-term plan to cutoff the outside world?

In October 2020, Iran’s Parliament passed a bill to develop a National Information Network (intranet) plan. The National Information Network’s “master engineering design” was approved on September 15 by Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace (ISCC) after it was confirmed by the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian regime has spent years pursuing a plan to build a domestic intranet separate from the global internet for security and censorship purposes called the “National Network.” Human rights organizations have expressed concern over the National Information Network plan, saying that Iranians will be denied freedom of information. They say the main goal of the NIN is to cutoff Iranians from the world.

Iran is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

Source » irannewswire

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