Iran Pushes for Regime, occupation of the Internet after Year of Unrest

A group of Iranian lawmakers is pushing handy control of the country's internet over to a committee composed of powerful elements of the regime, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Iran Pushes for Regime, occupation of the Internet after Year of Unrest

Forty members of the Iranian parliament had signed the motion as of Monday, consistent with Radio Farda. The proposal—titled "Organizing Social Media Messaging," would also ban foreign messaging apps and replace them with domestically produced ones, which can hand the regime closer surveillance capabilities.

The legislation would also introduce new penalties for anyone offering foreign messaging apps or ways round the restrictions, for instance VPNs. Those violating the new proposal will face a "six degree" imprisonment or fine, meaning anywhere from six months to 2 years in prison, and a fine of between $475 and $1,900.

A "domestic messaging app" will mean an Iranian the citizen must hold quite 50 percent of the program’s shares, it must be hosted’ in Iran, and its operations must abide by the country's laws.

The proposal would establish an "Organizing Committee" to oversee licenses for approved messaging apps, monitor them and investigate all complaints associated with their operations.

This centrosome would compile all elements of the regime, including the powerful IRGC's Intelligence Organization.

It would also include the top of the Cyberspace Center; a representative from the ministries of Intelligence, Culture, and Islamic Guidance, and Communication; the Attorney General's Office; the Cultural Commission; the state-run National Radio and TV body; the Islamic Propagation Organization; the police; and therefore the quasi-military National Passive Defense Organization.

Iran already bans many popular foreign social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Though Instagram remains allowed, lawmakers also are trying to dam the app. The ban for citizens doesn't stop regime leaders from using foreign apps to succeed in a worldwide audience.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for instance, has multiple Twitter profiles in several languages, and his English Channel has quite 810,000 followers. President Hassan Rouhani has 1.1 million followers, and secretary of state Javad Zarif 1.5 million.

The regime also habitually throttles the web to subdue anti-government unrest, whether over allegedly rigged elections, anger over death penalties for protesters, or demonstrations associated with poor quality of life and a struggling economy.

Internet watchdogs reported disruption in July following a web campaign against death penalties handed to people involved in last year's mass protests. Then, Iranian internet users endured weeks of patchy connection because the regime sought to crush demonstrations over a controversial new fuel tax.

The State Department claimed that regime forces suppressing the unrest killed some 1,500 protesters. Iranians again took to the streets in January after Iranian troops accidentally shot down a passenger plane over Tehran amid a military standoff with the U.S.

Earlier this month, the regime was forced’ to step in and affect strikes by oil and petrochemical workers within the south of the country, who began protesting poor working conditions and unpaid wages following several worker deaths.

The unpaid wages and poor working conditions in these vital industries speak to the disruption of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian industry. The sanctions—part of President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign—are designed’ to chop vital Iranian exports and further undermine the creaking economy.


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