Iran’s government spokesperson says there is no plan to shut down the internet
Ali Rabiei, spokesperson for the Iranian government said on Monday: “The government has no plan whatsoever to cut the people’s access to the internet, either now or in the future.” This comes after, during the recent Iran protests, an exceptional and lengthy internet shutdown took place, triggering widespread criticism.
Rabiei’s statement took place following a declaration in the Parliament by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, stressing the need to fully launch the Iranian National Information Network and to become independent from the internet.
The National Information Network is an ongoing project aiming at creating a secure, stable and private national intranet in Iran.
During his speech, Rouhani said: “We are hoping to consolidate the National Information Network in order to become independent from the global network and the government has been giving orders in this direction lately.”
But on Monday, Ali Rabiei emphasized that “the internet definitely won’t be shut down” and said, regarding the recent declaration from the government about the National Information Network, that they had been misinterpreted.
The spokesperson for the Islamic Republic’s government affirmed: “The government’s intention isn’t to transform Iran into an island. If the President declared that we need a national network in the current situation, we are not looking to shut the international internet down and isolate our country from the world.”
Rabiei added: “There is only one network in our country and it is the national network, on which the internet is present. People access the internet through this network.”
Even though the recent internet shutdown, according to the authorities, has caused serious economic damage for Iran, Ali Rabiei further said: “The digital economy depends on the internet. The perspective of the Iranian leadership is built on the youth of the country and conquering the region’s market. The government is seriously following this strategy.”
He also stressed that “to reach this goal” Iran will work on “a national network isolated from the world” to be able to act independently “in sensitive situations such as the current sanctions from the US” and in times of “crisis”.
The spokesperson for the Iranian government didn’t explain which “crisis” he was referring to, but during the recent countrywide wave of protests in Iran, the internet was exceptionally fully shut down and stayed down for up to 19 days in some parts of the country.
Following this shutdown, the US announced sanctions against Iran’s Minister of Communication, Mohammad‑Javad Azari Jahromi, for his role in the censorship of the internet.