While Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York, his cronies at home are shutting Iranians citizens out of the internet. Why? Because "we may get attacked by zionist viruses".
On Sunday, Iranian state television network announced that Google and Gmail would be blocked "within a few hours". The ban will remain in effect until further notice.
The Iranian government announced it would put all of its citizens in a "domestic internet network". Iran has blocked sites that go against the government's views in the past, but this will cut citizens off from the internet completely.
This time Iran is planning to take its people off the grid and into its own government-controlled corral. People are no longer going to be able to use virtual private networks to bypass governmental censorship and access information freely.
Ali Hakim-Javadi, Iran's Deputy Communications and Technology Minister, says the operation is already under way: "In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices... have been connected to the national information network."
Officially, every Iranian will be in this cage by March 2013, but the government has not announced yet when it will effectively shut down access to the internet.
With Syria, Egypt and Libya still resonating in their brains, the government and state media appears to be babbling all kinds of excuses in a move to control its citizens and the information they can access.
The Iranian Students' News Agency says the blocking was caused by the infamous "Innocence of Islam" video hosted on Google's YouTube service.
The Iranian government, however, says that it is doing this for two reasons. First, "control over the internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries" (which of course, is pure hypocrisy, given that they are forcing citizens onto their own network).
Secondly, the Iranian government is blaming computer attacks by external forces. According to Iran's Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour, you can't trust the internet "especially on major issues and during crises." Major issues like Google taking the name Persian Gulf out of Google Maps, or crises like the virus that attacked their nuclear plants. [Reuters]
The second reason is computer attacks by external forces. According to Iran's Communications and Technology Minister, Reza Taqipour, you can't trust the internet "especially on major issues and during crises". Major issues such as Google taking the name Persian Gulf out of Google Maps, or crises like the virus that attacked the country's nuclear plants. [Reuters]