U.S. Targeting Iran’s ‘Halal Internet’ (Video)

The State Department has launched a new cartoon it created highlighting Iran’s online system of censorship.

The cartoon follows Barack Obama’s message to Iranians on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, on March 20. He condemned Iran for the creation of an “electronic curtain” which stops the free flow of information and ideas into the country.

The video is also available in SpanishFrench, Chinese and Russian.

Iran is set to start implementing what’s been dubbed a ‘Halal Internet’ for the country next month.

The so-called ‘National Internet’ would go much further than China and disconnect Iran from the rest of the world. Iran is denying the reports as “western propaganda.”

Iranian newspaper Roozegar reported last year that the existing Internet access has dramatically slowed, because, it believed, the new ‘National Internet ‘ was being tested.

Speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, an Iranian IT expert with close knowledge of the ‘National Internet’ project said that the prime reason for its creation is not actually the opposition to the government but security in the wake of the Stuxnet attack on Iran’s nuclear project.

That computer virus, believed to have been a joint US/Israeli project, devastated the uranium enrichment project, as Iran eventually admitted.

The U.S. is funding ‘shadow’ communications projects globally, including what’s called “Internet in a suitcase” which would smuggle technology into countries like Iran. Between 2008 and 2011, Congress authorized $76m spending on such projects.

Another project is Commotion Wireless, which will enable anyone with a smartphone to connect with other smartphones, forming a “mesh network” – an impromptu internet – to communicate by stealth, regardless of efforts to monitor or shut down traffic.

In January, Commotion had a trial run at the Occupy DC encampment – meaning the State Department was effectively facilitating the protest.

Iranians, like Chinese Internet users, have found ways of going around existing web barriers (Facebook is one of five million blocked websites but it still has 17 million Iranian members) but censorship and monitoring still causes practical problems. This month it was discovered that it was blocking the official website for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Last year, exiled Iranian LGBT groups warned that the ‘Halal Internet’ would be a “disaster” because internet communications are so crucial.

“Right now, when a young gay man in a remote village fears for his life, or a TS [transsexual] student is hurt by university staff, or someone is missing, or an activist wants the translation of a piece of news, we reach out and help, and believe me it goes way beyond what I can or I am allowed to put to word,” says Saghi Ghahraman of the Iranian Queer Organization, an exile organization which supports people inside Iran and particularly those who need to flee.

“Being connected to the outside, having access to internet and phone lines, for the ordinary people as well as the activist is what that saves their lives.”

Related stories:

Twitter Censorship: #Fail

Ben Ali’s Tunisia Tested Censorship Software For Western Companies

Looming Internet ‘Disaster’ for Iranian LGBT


Picture by Overig

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KS Goh
KS Goh3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance3 years ago

Canada has bills C-11 and C-30 --- the Conservative government trying to control the internet, patterned after the US legislation by our Baby Bush wannabe PM.

Now the US wants to spend $76 million to assist Iranians when 1) there is a budget deficit and the Republican/Teabaggers would like to cut medicare and medicaid (not that $76 million will go far but it will help); and 2) helping Iranians will only serve to add fuel to smoking embers.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Parvez Zuberi
Parvez Zuberi3 years ago

Look who is taking about free flow of ideas on internet while in their own country they are spying on their own people what they are taking and one fine day those who speak against the GOVT they will be simply vanish under NDAA law

Mike Barnes
Michael Barnes3 years ago

Corporations already own the media. Now they want to own the internet. Government is merely the enforcement arm the use.

Tim L.
Tim L.3 years ago

Sort of interesting how the US is investing millions on ways to expanding the internet while spending millions on ways to shrink the internet too..

Marianna B M.


Jennifer S.
Jennifer S.3 years ago

The first and best way to enslave a population is to control their access to self-expression. What is happening in Iran can happen here if things in the US continue down the road they are traveling. "No", you say? Look at post WWI Germany. True, it may not happen in our lifetimes, but we are on that evil path which is destroying the rights and principles upon which this country was founded. And, as in Iran, in the name of religion.

eusebio vestias
vestias3 years ago


John Mansky
John Mansky3 years ago

Thank you for the article...