The secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution (SCCR) at a ceremony to mark World Telecommunications day reported that Iran’s intranet and firewall system, the National Information Network (NIN) which has been under development since 2006 is eighty percent (80%) complete. Iranian officials indicated that the NIN is intended to protect Iran from cyberattacks while enabling Iranian access to low-cost high speed broadband. The US however is concerned that this intranet project will serve to repress Iranian citizens’ freedoms.
Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).