Iran looks set to permanently deny the World Wide Web to millions of the country's residents, which will include popular social networking sites as well as email services from the likes of Google, according to a report by the International Business Times, whose sources claim Iran plans to establish their own intranet within the next five months.
Iranian minister for Information and Communications, Reza Taghipour, released a statement at the beginning of the month confirming the setting up of a national intranet which would include the blockage of all services provided by Google, Yahoo and Hotmail as they push closer to achieving a "clean internet."
The plan consists of two main parts, with the first phase due to start in May, in which Google, Hotmail and Yahoo services will be blocked and replaced by Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine products. During and after the completion of the first phase it is believed that most websites will still be accessible, with the exception of the aforementioned sites.
Those wishing to have emails will be required to register for an Iran Mail ID, a registration procedure the country has already put in place, in which the government mandates authentic personal information in order to match the details to a real person. Only once the personal information has been verified with government records of the individual will the registration be approved.
Phase two of the national intranet project, due for completion by August will see the remainder of the internet completely denied to Iranian users. "All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August," said Taghipour.
That said, the AFP this morning released a statement from Iranian officials responding to the news coverage surrounding the April 1 statement by Taghipour, saying the publication was a hoax. "The report is in no way confirmed by the ministry" and is "completely baseless," the ministry statement said.
The ministry responded to the false report saying, "the propaganda wing of the West and providing its hostile media with a pretext emanating from a baseless claim."
Interestingly, officials did say they have plans to build a "national information network" that would function as a intranet for the country's internet users. No information was provided about whether the internet would exist alongside it, or be blocked as the original report suggests, but it sounds eerily close to the original report by the minister for Information and Communications.