Iran is following through with previously reported plans to move its citizens onto a domestic Internet network, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the country is about to start blocking Google, also according to Reuters. It's unclear whether the two moves are related.
A government deputy minister today announced the domestic Internet plans as a way to improve cybersecurity, adding that all government agencies and offices have been connected to the "national information network." The next step would be to connect everyday citizens to the network as well, he said.
Separately, state television reportedly announced Google's search engine and e-mail would be blocked "within a few hours." Reuters reported. The news service quoted an official only identified as Khoramabadi as saying "Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice."
The former is in line with a report from April that the country was planning a national interanet within five months in an effort to create "a clean Internet." That report was later denied, but reports of an Iranian Internet system isolated from the Web have continued to surface. Iranian media say the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013, Reuters reported. Still unclear whether access to the World Wide Web would be cut once the Iranian system is rolled out.
The Iranian Students' News Agency is reporting that the Google ban is related to the the anti-Islamic film posted on the company's YouTube site, which has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world. But this connection hasn't been confirmed, Reuters says.
We've reached out to Google to confirm search and Gmail are actually being blocked. We'll update this post when we hear back.
Iranian Internet users have grown accustomed to censorship. The country's government cut off access to the Internet a few times earlier this year, the latest of which blocked access to all encrypted international sites outside the country that operate on Secure Sockets Layer protocol. Many Iranians use proxy servers over Virtual Private Networks to circumvent government efforts to block access to foreign news sites and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.