Iran is planning to operate its own national Internet as the government looks to crack down on uncensored Web surfing.
The country on Sunday announced the first phase of its “national information network” was complete via the pro-government Tasnim News Agency.
The project will bring low-cost, high-speed, but censored Internet to its citizens.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the network “can be regarded as one of the key components of the country’s independence.”
The project has been in the works since 2005, when the government first announced its intention of launching a national Internet system. Since then, the country has been investing in fiber optic cables and new data centers so more sites can be hosted inside the country rather than abroad.
Iran has a long history of censorship going back more than a decade.
In Iran, websites and Internet applications are often blocked. Facebook and Twitter, for instance, have been blocked in Iran since 2009. Neither Instagram nor WhatsApp have been banned in Iran as yet, although both have been subjects of discussion.
Back in May, the Iranian government announced it would be cracking down on foreign social media sites and messaging apps and demanded all data and activity records of Iranian users be stored on servers within its borders.
Although government officials in Iran have been known to use both social networking sites — in fact officials have unlimited access to them — citizens of Iran must use proxy servers or other workarounds like virtual private networks and other special software.