The Isolating Effects of Iran’s Proposed “National Internet”

While the United Nations has deemed government-orchestrated internet shutdowns to be a human rights violation, Iran continues to push the limits

In the past month, Iran executed at least 33 prisoners. In December 2020, Iran executed dissident journalist Rouhollah Zam. In September, Iran executed champion wrestler Navid Afkari. With these executions, the Iranian regime seeks to instill fear and prevent the escalation of protests. During the same period, Iranian hard-liners have continued pushing to launch a “national internet” in Iran that would be controlled by the Islamic Republic. This domestic replacement — which would further isolate Iran from the rest of the world — is a dangerous omen for the future of Iran and its citizens. With help from China, the Iranian regime has made plans to replace the internet that millions of Iranians — and more than four billion people worldwide — use with a national internet that the regime can control. The international community must step up to denounce this proposal and put pressure on Iran to reverse plans.

Right now, Iran bans many websites, among them social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and other websites focused on topics including health, science, entertainment and shopping. While regime leaders continue to use these sites themselves and post actively on their public social media accounts, Iranians are barred from access and can only attempt to access these websites through a virtual private network connection.

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