24 September 2012

Iran Preparing Internal Version of Internet

Washington Post (09/20/12) James Ball
                ; Benjamin Gottlieb

The Iranian government reportedly has established a technical platform for a national online network that would exist independent of the Internet and allow for tighter information regulation.  The network's development has been accelerated by cyberattacks targeting Iran's nuclear program, according to Iranian officials and outside experts.  A forthcoming report from U.S. security researchers working under the aegis of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Global Communications Studies found functional versions of the sites of Iranian government ministries, universities, and businesses on the network, as well as indications of an operational filtering capability.  The researchers note the network already is "internally consistent and widely reachable."  The findings have sparked concerns not just about human rights violations but also about Internet integrity, says the U.S. State Department's David Baer.  "When countries section off parts of the Web, not only do their citizens suffer, everyone does," Baer says.  With the infrastructure for a self-contained, Iran-only Internet in place, the government would have more power to suppress online access during periods of civil unrest.  Retired U.S. National Security Agency deputy director Cedric Leighton says the construction of a national network could give government-supported hackers more capabilities to launch and repulse cyberattacks.


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