Censoring Begins At Home: Iran Announces Plans To Build Its Own Internet, Operating System

from the Anonymous-says-O-RLY? dept

Iran’s government has decided to push past regular villainy and head straight for cartoonish super-villainy with its plan to build its own internet. Being one of the "most sophisticated nations in online censoring" just isn’t enough these days, what with every "civilized" nation pushing its own brand of censorship. It looks as if Iran has decided that if the internet is too difficult to regulate, it may be easier to start from the ground floor.

Iran is promoting its national internet as a "cost-saving measure for consumers and a way to uphold Islamic moral codes." This will operate in parallel with the existing internet before making the switch to IOL or whatever this new censornet will be called. The roll-out is going quickly, with 60% of Iran’s homes and businesses migrating "soon," with the entire country due to be completely severed from the rest of the world "within two years."

The Iranian government is also looking to install a new basement (if we follow the "new internet = "ground floor" analogy — and I guess we will). It intends to roll out its own operating system to replace Windows within the coming months. Ali Aghamohammadi, the Iranian Head of Economic Affairs, has expressed his confidence that the government-approved internet and operating system will also be deployed by other Muslim countries.

This bit of dismaying news had no sooner graced the pages of the un-Iranian internet when information surfaced that Anonymous had hacked the Iranian government’s computers. The "group" succeeded in harvesting 10,000 email messages from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs containing "approvals and rejections for a variety of visas and passports, among other requests, and correspondence."

In addition, Anonymous is planning a day-long DDoS attack to commemorate the anniversary of the 2009 elections, which saw Ahmadinejad doing everything from shutting down Facebook access to ordering the torching of an opponent’s campaign office.

Whether these actions will hasten or delay the implementation of the Iran-only internet remains to be seen. Iran has only stated that it will be rolled out "soon," wording, which is vague enough that either side can claim it acheived its goals. As more anti-government activity flares up in nearby regions, usually accompanied by a shutdown of communication services, it would surprise exactly no one if other like-minded countries begin to view Iran as their ISP of choice.

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Comments on “Censoring Begins At Home: Iran Announces Plans To Build Its Own Internet, Operating System”

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42 Comments
Robert says:

I see Iran is the first country to heed the call of Sarkozy to creat a “civilized” internet. Sadly, this proved to be incompatible with the French civilized internet and they had to go and create their own.

Well, it’s a small price for a proper internet that works as it should, not being able to discuss or speak about the misdeeds of the government.

Anonymous Coward says:

Before the Internet

You know, before the Internet as we know existed, there were several separate national networks. So they building a separate national network is not exactly a new idea.

And the Internet was originally designed as a way to bridge several disparate networks (thus the name Internet). That it ended up replacing them is a tribute to how well it works.

So, if Iran creates a new national network, it will end up being interconnected to the Internet via gateways, exactly like happened in the past.

Andrew (profile) says:

Ali Aghamohammadi, the Iranian Head of Economic Affairs, has expressed his confidence that the government-approved internet and operating system will also be deployed by other Muslim countries.

Yeah, because every other country in the Middle East trusts Iran implicitly.

While this appears to be more of a rebranding exercise than anything (it’s apparently based on Linux), it’s probably a good time, in advance of the inevitable hack attacks that will follow, to remember Schneier’s Law

Any person can invent a security system so clever that he or she can’t imagine a way of breaking it.

herbert says:

i think this sort of thing was inevitable, given the restrictions that the entertainment industries and various governments are implementing, along with shutdowns of domains and so-called ‘infringing’ web sites. trouble is, it allows for greater restrictions to be put into place as well. doubt if it will be long before there are individual ‘country nets and O/Ss’ springing up all over the place. all because certain industries and certain countries have been and still are trying to censor the internet, whilst condemning countries that already do that. it has been said many times that once the Internet becomes controlled, it will be broken. not far away now, then everyone will suffer!

Di Fiasco (profile) says:

lol – I can see it now:

“…iAllah Search Results for ‘Women’s Parental Rights’

Result 1: Infidel! You should not look at such things!
Result 2: Infidel! You should not look at such things!
Result 2: Infidel! You should not look at such things!

Search Suspended. Your activities have been logged. Please remain stationary while a consultant is arranged to visit with you…”

Viln (profile) says:

I have faith that Iran will actually try to go through with this. Of course, whatever IOS’ and hardware they choose to use will be either be duplicates or knock-offs of existing products. Not only will this potentially insulate their economy, it will make their gateways the new favorite target of people who have already thoroughly hacked the second-generation gear they’ll be using. Of course, taking away the internet might just be enough to turn peaceful protests into an armed insurrection.

I highly doubt any of the surrounding nations in that region will be using Iran as an ISP any time soon, even the terrifyingly ignorant ones. But if they’re successful in securing Iranternet and keeping the unwanted out and hiding their dirty laundry, Sony might be throwing a few security contracts their way.

Ron Rezendes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Then, why don’t we simply create the RIAA.net now and tell the RIAA that it is the only place where you are guaranteed that you CAN’T get ANY content, not from the artists nor otherwise.

Then, we tell them, EVERYONE has been forced to use the new network. They will see no music or other content being shared on their RIAA.net and the piracy problem will be solved!

Anonymous Coward says:

Hilarious and inevitable

I think this is both hilarious and inevitable. As all countries have unique laws, so should all regional Internet. This is not some fantasy New World Order where all abide by the same legal code. Iran will do what suits Iran. Same as all other countries. Each will carve out its own space online, and they will mostly be distinct.

aldestrawk says:

Hey Iran, hire me!

Iran, hire me as a consultant and I will give you the full details of how to have this up and running quickly. Here’s the overview on my proposal: Use Novell’s IPX protocol stack instead of TCP/IP. Any patents have probably expired by now and although core routers still handle and route IPX packets, most hosts do not handle this stack anymore. Additionally, we can change a couple of key fields in the headers to make it incompatible with the existing IPX protocol stack in such a way that makes it a huge pain in the ass to do protocol conversion. You would have to know these IPX packets were coming from Iran to handle conversion to regular IPX or the TCP/IP stack. Large scale gateways would be impossible without Iran’s cooperation and this scheme would make small scale gateways much more difficult.
As your consultant I would have to point out a couple of caveats. You will never be able to drop the parallel network plan. A TCP/IP network connected to the rest of the world will always be needed for business, scientific research, and for your government to keep tabs on world news, foreign governments, and ex-pat dissidents. Finally, I must advise you that separating your network from the internet may spark a backlash among the general populace which will end up countering the effect you desire. You cannot erase the knowledge of the existence of the internet. Although your government clearly understands the dangers of unfiltered information to it’s people and itself, you cannot suppress the inherent curiosity that exists in all cultures.

aikiwolfie (profile) says:

“The Iranian government is also looking to install a new basement (if we follow the “new internet = “ground floor” analogy — and I guess we will). It intends to roll out its own operating system to replace Windows within the coming months. Ali Aghamohammadi, the Iranian Head of Economic Affairs, has expressed his confidence that the government-approved internet and operating system will also be deployed by other Muslim countries.”

Personally I’m amazed no one has done this before. If it succeeds it won’t just be Muslim countries following suit. China will be close behind, followed swiftly by France. Except France will ban all non-Microsoft OSs or invent a special tax for them.

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