Iranian parliament slammed by journalist group over restrictive Internet bill 

The bill is part of a campaign to create a closed national intranet under government control. (File/CPJ)
The bill is part of a campaign to create a closed national intranet under government control. (File/CPJ)
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Updated 02 November 2021

Iranian parliament slammed by journalist group over restrictive Internet bill 

The bill is part of a campaign to create a closed national intranet under government control. (File/CPJ)
  • Iranian bill, which will further restrict the Internet, is moving ahead in parliament
  • The bill will strengthen the government’s legal authority to block websites and platforms run by foreign technology companies

LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed concern on Tuesday over reports that an Iranian bill which will further restrict the Internet is moving ahead in parliament. 

The legislation, the Cyberspace Users Rights Protection and Regulation of Key Online Services Bill, was undergoing review by a parliamentary subcommittee last month and was subsequently approved on Oct. 17. 

The legislation requires international tech companies to have a legal representative in Iran to comply with the country’s laws and cooperate with the government in surveilling users and censoring online spaces.

The bill will strengthen the government’s legal authority to block websites and platforms run by foreign technology companies without a local representative in Iran. 

It would also require people to register their ID to access the Internet, as well as criminalizing the production, sale, and distribution of virtual private networks, which people can use to circumvent government restrictions on the web.

“Instead of further controlling what journalists and citizens can do online, Iranian lawmakers should be finding ways to promote the free flow of information,” said Sherif Mansour, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator at the CPJ.

“All of society suffers when barriers to open Internet access prevent journalists from doing their jobs.” 

The bill is part of a campaign to create a closed national intranet under government control, a project which was previously used by Iranian authorities to gather information about journalists and put them behind bars. 

The bill was suspended last July by parliament amid the widespread unrest that was taking place in the country. 

However, despite objections from citizens and watchdogs over the last few months, the bill is moving ahead and is expected to be ratified early next year.