updated 01:48 pm EDT, Mon September 24, 2012
Confirms first step in private national network complete
Iran has blocked its citizens from accessing Google and Gmail. The country is blocking access to the web giant's websites as part of the ongoing protests over a YouTube video deemed blasphemous by religious leaders, however some see it as the first stage in the country creating its own national network, separate from the Internet.
An announcement on state-controlled television announced the blocks, with an official identified as Khoramabadi stating "Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice." The Iranian Students' News Agency claimed that the ban was due to the video, although no official statement confirming this as the case has been made.
Iran is persistent in blocking websites that it deems offensive. In February, it blocked access to sites using HTTPS in an effort to stifle protests, and it reached a point that the US Office of Foreign Asset Control provided tools for Iranians to use the internet and sidestep the blocks.
An internal version of the Internet isolated from the global version is apparently being constructed in the country, with the deputy communications and technology minister Ali Hakim-Javadi being quoted as claiming "all governmental agencies and offices ... have been connected to the national information network."
He claimed the second phase of the plan, connecting members of the Iranian public to the network, would be fully implemented by March 2013, however it was not mentioned if access to the global version of the Internet would be stopped within the country once the government-controlled version goes live. [via The Telegraph]