Iran to implement National Information Network to keep people off the internet

Iranian authorities are preparing to create a National Information Network (NIN) aiming to restrict internet access.

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Nationwide demonstrations in Iran were spurred by the death of Iranian student Mahsa Jina Amini, who died in custody for allegedly wearing her hijab improperly. The government responded by placing severe restrictions on the Internet, and as the anniversary of the death of the Iranian student approaches, it is preparing to create a National Information Network (NIN) aiming to keep most of its people off the web.

According to Fereidoon Bashar, CEO of ASL19, a Canadian business that assists Iranians in connecting to the internet through circumvention tools and virtual private networks (VPNs), NIN is designed to control Iran’s information online. The scientific community in Iran will suffer significantly as a result of these actions, further exacerbating an already challenging position brought on by international sanctions.

Iranian authorities have claimed that by the spring of 2024, NIN will be complete. In the meantime, NIN offers the Bale messaging app and domestic versions of YouTube and Amazon. The US government has attempted to block the NIN, claiming that it would violate the right to free speech, while China is believed to have helped the creation of NIN’s infrastructure and surveillance algorithm, Bashar says. Although VPN users may circumvent NIN, Arturo Filastò of the Open Observatory of Network Interference, a nonprofit that documents internet censorship, claims that the government could monitor them.

According to researchers, the creation of NIN poses a threat to free speech, the right to information, and the right to privacy, while also placing a heavy burden on the scientific community, already grappling with international sanctions.