There was talk a few months ago of Iran wanting to create its own Internet, free of Western influence and open communication. It would be a severe blow to the efforts of citizens who relied on an Internet connection to the outside world during the massive protests that rocked the country in 2011. Silence on the issue since made us think that they gave up on those aspirations, but a recent development suggests that the country is starting up their own Internet.
The Telegraph is reporting that Iran wants to take its key ministries and state bodies off the Internet next month. Why the sudden and drastic move? The country wants to protect itself from the viruses that have recently ravaged their computer networks, including their nuclear research facilities. Removing itself from the Internet at large would help to prevent infections from the likes of Stuxnet and Flame, two viruses that apparently originated in the United States.
During a conference at Tehran's Amir Kabir University, Iran's telecommunications minster, Reza Taghipour, said that "the establishment of the national intelligence network" will help prevent state secrets from being accessed by countries they view as being hostile to Iran.
After they move the state departments to their own Intranet, the country will begin their plan to move the entire country off the Internet. They expect Iran to be completely Internet free within 18 months. After that point, it seems that people will have to jump through even more hurdles just to access the Internet.
Unfortunately, the move to ridding themselves of the Internet will do little to protect themselves from harm and do everything to harm their civilians. As much as they like to think that the Internet is just a tool for insurrection and cyber attacks, they will severely impact the educational and economic opportunities of their own people. By removing the Internet, it's entirely possible that Iran could become socio-economically worse than North Korea in just a few year's time.