from the Age-of-Enlightenment-still-several-hundred-years-away,-apparently dept
Iran continues to battle the Internet, recognizing the fact that an unfiltered exchange of ideas (some of them admittedly often horrifically bad) tends to undermine repressive regimes. While the President and the Minister of Communications have stressed that higher-speed connections (and less censorship) are useful to Iran's citizens, many others in the government feel that increasing speeds means giving up lots and lots of control. (via @visions_studios)
[C]onservative, religious, and security organizations and officials fear the loss of control that a faster Internet will bring, and as such resist the administration’s efforts to provide the faster services.These government officials would prefer the President push everyone onto Iran's version of the Internet: the National Information Network. Whenever it's finally fully implemented, it will function like a countrywide Intranet, giving government control over access as well as opening users up to significant amounts of surveillance.
Since President Rouhani seems reluctant to throttle the nation's internet users, others have pressed forward on the issue. Cue the Grand Ayatollah of Iran, who has arbitrarily determined that high-speed connections are an affront to [this particular] God.
A Grand Ayatollah in Iran has determined that access to high-speed and 3G Internet is “against Sharia” and “against moral standards.” In answer to a question published on his website, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, one of the country’s highest clerical authorities, issued a fatwa, stating “All third generation [3G] and high-speed internet services, prior to realization of the required conditions for the National Information Network [Iran’s government-controlled and censored Internet which is under development], is against Sharia [and] against moral and human standards.”Left undiscussed is how incremental increases in speed are incremental increases in sin or how exactly an Iran-only internet would redeem "immoral" high-speed connections. These sorts of questions are better left unasked, especially in a nation filled with religious leaders that can impose and carry out death penalties with impunity.
The bottom line is that a clunky internet is a mostly-useless internet, even for non-subversive reasons like seeking jobs or performing research. Shirazi's declaration is mostly noise-making, but it does serve a purpose -- to give the conservatives pushing for the Iranternet more ammo to use against political opponents. Nothing brings the froth to the surface faster than blending politics and religion, especially when the subject matter is the world wide web.
The former Minister of Communications had this to say in support of strangling the web.
"If the Ministry of Communications does not pay attention to the sensitivities of the people and the ulama [high-ranking clerics], [the Ministry] will have no choice but to prepare itself for significant developments at the Parliament and in society."Note that the "sensitivities of the people" are somehow exactly the same as the "sensitivities of high-ranking clerics," even when the people are actively seeking better connection speed.
Mahmoud Khosravi, Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of the Ertebatat-e Zirsakht (Communications Infrastructure) Company, stated recently that three million new requests for high-speed Internet services had been filed.Iran's citizens want one thing. Parts of the government want another. And religious leaders just want control of both the people and the government. In between lies the internet. "Knowledge is power" as they say, and the internet contains a wealth of it. And Iran's power structure -- the part of it that relies on stupidity like "2G good, 3G bad" fatwas -- would like this threat neutralized, and it's willing to further harm the future of the nation to do it.