ran is pushing online censorship to a new level with a two-year plan to phase out access to the world wide web, and establish a national internet completely disconnected from the outside world. Government ministers said the system would comply with Islamic law, making it "a genuinely halal network." The project would be an important part of Iran's effort to keep out Western ideas and morals — which Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has referred to as the "soft war" — and would also make it harder for opposition activists to tap into social media to fuel their cause. Could Tehran really pull it off?
It will be difficult, but not impossible: "Not even China has taken such drastic steps," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker, although Beijing might be next if Iran really manages to cut off its citizens from the rest of the world. This would, of course, be a huge setback for democracy advocates, who rely on the internet to organize and to get help from the outside world. "I suppose it was inevitable that the technological advances brought about by the internet would eventually lead to the means to squelch it."
"Iran seeks its own state-run internet"
This will never work: Tehran failed miserably when it tried to cut off pro-democracy protesters from Facebook and Twitter, says Nick Farrell at TechEye. This latest plan might annoy the novices among the 11 percent of Iranians who have internet access now, but "the technically literate will create a dark web that will render the whole government effort useless."
"Iran has had enough of the internet"
Even if it works, the government will regret it: "The ambitious internet plan is not without its difficulties, says Adweek. And for the government, the worst-case scenario might be that they actually succeed. "Such a closed off system could stunt investment opportunities with other censor-minded nations such as Russia and China," and Iran desperately needs financial help to survive.
"Iran goes off the grid"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Attack of the invasive species
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- How Captain America won over China
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
Subscribe to the Week