We've been hearing for a while now that Iran's government plans to shut down the Internet in general and, in its place, launch a national Internet that doesn't include sites like Google or YouTube. For now, though, those plans seem to have no definite deadline as the Iranian authorities have come out denying that it plans to cut off the Internet by August. However, authorities are still claiming that it plans to launch a "national information network" by March 2013.
According to a statement released by Communications Minister Reza Taghipour that was released on April 1, speculation that the country planned to shut down Internet access by August is "completely baseless" and "in no way confirmed by the ministry."
Despite Taghipour's claims, the Irani government has made a habit of shutting down popular Internet sites in the past several months. In February, the government began blocking sites like Gmail, YouTube, and Google's encrypted search prior to the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution. Google confirmed the reports that its sites were blocked in Iran, but further information suggested that the entire Internet had been included in the blockade. Although access to the sites returned, rumors began to spread following this outage that the Irani authorities were blocking the sites because it was testing the possibility of launching its own national Internet.
More recently, Iran's government blocked access to the official site for the 2012 Olympics in London and is currently redirecting users to Iran's official news agencies. Officials claim that the 2012 logo spells out "Zion."
At this point, while it would be wildly ambitious to shut out the Internet from the country, such efforts, based on the government's previous habits, wouldn't be completely out of the realm of possibility.[Via AFP.]