New cyber regulations announced by Iran last week, including requiring Internet cafes to install surveillance cameras, could be just a precursor to the Islamic Republic’s “halal” network, many observers are saying.
That network, an “Islamically permissible” intranet that the nation’s telecommunications ministry publicized in early 2011, would disconnect Iran from the rest of the world and run a parallel internal service that would automatically censor material and block popular global sites and search engines, such as Facebook, Google and Wikipedia.
“I don’t think it’s a question of if, but a question of when,” said Austin Heap, executive director of the Censorship Research Center, who also works on developing technologies for increasing Internet freedom.
At the time of the announcement, Iranian authorities said the new infrastructure would be revealed soon, but did not give a specific time frame.
“They are taking the lessons of the 2009 uprisings and figuring out how to prevent that,” Heap said. “A halal network would be only what the regime would want you to see.”...