National Intranet

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A national intranet is an IP (Internet Protocol) based self-contained internet under state control. Considered a form of governmental Internet Fragmentation, intranets limit user access to the global internet. This is made possible by blocking certain IP addresses, limiting bandwidth and offering a suite of state-issued search engines and email services. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Iran's "Halal Internet"

Significant attempts to build a national intranet have occurred alongside the development of safety and security measures, as well as an attempt to use up-to-date protocols since 2006. The development project, named National Internet Project was first considered under the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is set to be completed in 2019. This type of internet, nicknamed "halal internet" will function under Islamic principles, differentiating content based on its "cleanliness". This fundamental approach was most clearly described by Reza Taghipour, minister of information and communications technology (2009-2012) when he stated that "isolation of the clean internet from the unclean portion will make it impossible to use the internet for unethical and dirty businesses”.

According to Iranian Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Ali Agha Mohammadi, the project was inspired originally inspired by China's "Great Firewall".[5] In effect, however, while the Halal Internet was originally conceived as a national standalone intranet, similar to pre-Internet AOL and Compuserve, it presently uses blocking and packet loss to discourage access to other websites, leading some to call nickname it the "Filternet".[6][7]

Accessing international websites and online services, such as Gmail and Skype, has become more difficult through this new internet -- and while national sites can still be accessed, slow internet speeds often keep local bank and business websites from resolving properly.[8]

Patterns also seemed to emerge where the internet went offline or became especially slow in the days leading up to significant events, such as elections.[8] This timing seems in line with the fact that the national intranet saw major changes after the 2009 elections. Prior to that, the Iranian government focused mainly on censoring foreign news and social media sites, which Iranians easily bypassed via VPN sites, which allows users to access the internet as though they were residing in a different country.[8] Since March 2013, however, VPNs have been blocked. Blocking access to international sites pushes users to adopt local social networks and use the higher-speed national network, which will thus allow the government to monitor web activity more effectively.[8]

Collin Anderson, an American researcher who has been mapping the emergence of Iran's internet network, notes that there has also been a significant rise in malware and phishing attempts since 2009. He suspects that Iranian authorities are responsible.[8]


Toosheh - Net Freedom Pioneers

Toosheh is a content distribution service created by the NetFreedom Pioneers, a team of Iranian developers living in California. NetFreedom Pioneers created the service to be accessible through Iranian consumer's TV satellite set-top box receiver. The service circumvents Iran's heavy content restrictions and censorship by using a rented satellite ran by a company called Yashat from the United Arab Emirates.[9]

Users are able to download content by switching to the "Toosheh" channel on their satellite TV, ensuring a USB device is ported to their set-top box receiver. Within the span of an hour, users download 1 gigabyte of news, entertainment and educational content to their USB, after which they connect to their personal computer to decode and enjoy.

Daily content is curated by the NetFreedom Pioneers currently. The non-profit intends to extend this curatorial overview to other content developers in order to reach a broader audience and deliver content previously unavailable due to copyright regulation.

Foreign Governments

Following the announcement of the national intranet in Iran, the U.S. Department of State said in a press release that it will allow the export to Iran of "certain services, software and hardware incident to personal communication in Iran... As the Iranian government attempts to silence its people by cutting off their communication with each other and the rest of the world, the United States will continue to take action to help the Iranian people exercise their universal human rights, including the right to freedom of expression."[8]


In 2011, it was stated that Iran hoped to offer access to the intranet to nearby countries. Iranian Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs Ali Agha Mohammadi stated that, "Iran will soon create an internet that conforms to Islamic principles, to improve its communication and trade links with the world" […] We can describe it as a genuinely 'halal' network aimed at Muslims on a ethical and moral level […] The aim of this network is to increase Iran and the Farsi language's presence in what has become the most important source of international communication."[5]


China's "Great Firewall"