The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Iranian government is laying the foundation for a national intranet that would replace Iranian citizens’ access to the world wide web. Iranians already have limited access to high speeds and certain social media sites, but this infrastructure would give the government even greater control to filter out western influence, to squelch and monitor internal dissent, and presumably to guard against western cyber attacks like Stuxnet on its nuclear program. One very interesting note in the article also predicts that a byproduct of building this intranet would be knowledge that would improve Iran’s capability to launch cyber attacks as well as defend against them.
Once again, a move by an oppressive regime should give those of us in free societies who too often cry censorship a moment to reflect on what censorship really looks like. But it will be interesting to watch whether or not the Iranian government pursues this program and what its effects will ultimately be. By most accounts, the citizens of Iran are among the most pro-Western, pro-democratic, and highly educated people in the Middle East. So, will closing off access work for the government, or will it intensify the seething desire for regime change? It is my bias that free speech is like weeds, that it tends to find a way through the cracks, but as always, I want to hear from you.