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Supreme Leader sets up body to oversee internet; local companies produce anti-virus software; Revolutionary Guards set up locally-produced secure communications system; Director of IT says Iranians turning to national email service

Media Analysis: March 8th, International Women’s Day: Reflections from Within and Without Iran. Competing narratives surrounding the celebration of International Women’s Day and what the day actually represents or should represent was seen a great deal in the past week, coming from both inside and oustside Iran. March 8th was mostly overlooked in government media outlets; the few pieces that could be found were polemical and religious in nature. By Yassmin Manauchehri

Persian cyberspace report: Were Iran’s 9th parliamentary elections a turning point or more of the same? Iran’s ninth parliamentary elections, which took place on 2 March 2012, were a trending topic in the Persian cyberspace this week. Most of the Iranian social networkers and bloggers who posted online commentary focused on the failure of the Green Movement to inspire a boycott, the dubious statistics of the elections office of the interior ministry, the lack of choice regarding candidates, and former President Khatami’s vote.

News in Brief

Iran’s Supreme Leader sets up body to oversee internet: On March 8th, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei issued a decree for the establishment of a council under the name of “The Supreme Council on Cyberspace.” Ayatollah Khamenei’s Farsi website has a detailed flow-chart of the council’s members which is to be made up of the country’s top officials, including four ministers and headed by the President. In the decree, the Supreme Leader stated,

The increasing expansion of IT and Communications, in particular the global internet network and its significant effects on the individual and social dimensions of life necessitate extensive and targeted investment in the field… continuous planning and coordination in order to protect against its harms is important…requires a centralized focal point of policy, decision making and coordination in the country’s virtual space.

The Telecommunication Company of Iran announced the establishment of a banking telecommunications network company in the country – a joint project between the Central Bank and the TCI under the name of Shabak. Davood Zareian, Head of PR said, "The purpose of this network is to provide telecommunications services to both private and public banks…with this network all the needs which were previously provided through satellites and foreign systems will be through local systems."

One-third of the estimated 1.5 million high-speed internet users in Iran are from Tehran province.

The VP of Development and Engineering at Tehran’s Telecommunication Company of Iran said, "Some disruptions in service stem from the Telecommunications Infrastructure Company (TIC). Although we are also part of the service provision chain, because the TIC sometimes makes changes in their own network, it disrupts our services as well."

We Will Deal with Managers of Illegal Websites - The head of Sistan and Baluchistan province’s FETA (Internet Police) announced that there will be legal ramifications for the designers and managers of illegal websites.

Amn-Pardaz Company, with support from the Civil Defense Organization, has produced a local anti-virus software. Currently at its pilot stage, the software has been used at some government agencies. It is set to be officially released in the new Iranian year (starting March 20th 2012). This news comes after the ban on importing foreign security software was announced.

Google Country Domains are Filtered: ITNA reported that while access to the main Google domain is available, other country specific domains are blocked. These include Google Canada, Germany, UK, Japan, China, Netherlands, France, Italy and Spain.

Controversial Comments made by Dr. Shahshahani, known as the founder of internet in Iran. He was quoted as saying: "If most people knew what the National Internet is, they would be against it, since the proposed model is like what exists in China…What is true and referred to as the National Internet means that we will have good and expansive local connections but all our foreign connections are to pass through a controllable channel. Currently, 95-percent of Iran’s connections are through the TCI or fiber-optic connections, therefore, many websites we enter are already filtered. In reality, this is the meaning of National Internet!"

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps has set up a secure communication system under the name of Basir. According to the report, this system was set up in time for the country’s parliamentary elections. The Vice President of Information and Communications of the IRGC said, "Purchasing this system from another country would have cost us 45 million dollars, while producing it locally only cost us 6 million dollars. The local system is in many ways better than the others."

The Director of the IT Organization of Iran said, "Iranians have welcomed national E-mail services and it is increasing in popularity on a day to day basis, so much so that during the period that access to foreign E-mail services was unavailable, use of the local service increased." He also urged users to disregard the security warning they are faced with while trying to access this service. **It should be noted that the E-mail section of the website has been out of service for some time now, including the period referred to in the above quote.

The book publisher, ‘Sales’, says the book section of the Iranian Cultural ministry has not accepted any books from this publisher since last week. Other publishers like ‘Cheshmeh’ had the same problem before and they could not get publishing permission for their books.





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