The Iranian government's intolerance and strong censorship of the internet has been well documented. Though originally being comparatively open in their internet laws, the country has become increasingly restricted ever since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration took office in 2005, despite having the 2nd largest internet presence in the Middle East at just over 20 million user, behind only Israel. The government's regulation of the internet only increased after many Iranians used social media as their biggest tool in protesting the allegedly fixed 2009 elections.
On Monday, multiple reports started being published citing the International Business Times that Iran intends to permanently shut down the internet and replace it with their own "clean" internal platform. According to the IRT, Iran's minister for Information and Communications Technology, Reza Taghipour, released a statement announcing that "all Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August." The national intranet would replace services like Google, Gmail, and Yahoo with the country's own homegrown substitutes.
Taghipour has since denied reports that Iran plans on shutting down the internet, claiming that the statement was a hoax generated by "the propaganda wing of the West". However, he did confirm that the Middle Eastern nation does intend on developing its own national platform, which they expect to launch by March 2013.
If the initial reports prove to be true, it would mark the boldest attempt yet by a country to censor and control the world wide web. Should Iran manage to successfully put their own substitute intranet in place, it could set a dangerous precedent for other authoritative states in the area who are desperately trying to block what they deem harmful to their citizens.
This story is sure to continue developing, and may become an incredibly controversial issue as we near the proposed launch date next March.