Forcing the Local
This week, Minister of Communications, Reza Taqipour, added mobile phone companies to the same list as banks – prohibiting them to send statements to clients with foreign Email services. Furthermore, insurance companies and the CRA (Communications Regulatory Agency) were instructed that the use of foreign hosted Email services was no longer allowed. Furthermore, from now on executive, educational and academic agencies must have “.ir” domain endings for their official websites. An article from Shargh Daily (via IT News Agency), argues that this plan is not limited to government institutions and will also affect the general public. Shargh’s reporter believes that the new regulations are particularly logical, and officials need to first define ‘national Email’ in order to clarify the concept for users and build their trust.
One of the main concerns for critics of the proposed regulations has been whether or not the Ministry of Communications has any legislative power to implement new laws. Ali Motaharri, Head of Majlis Telecommunications Committee believes:
“The directive from the Minister can be considered as advice, and not a law which has to be implemented.”
The Ministry of Communications defended itself by stating that according to the law, in particular circumstances, it has the power to implement new regulations.
Furthermore, Mahmood Farahani, an expert on online banking said:
“Initially this news sounded rather strange, especially since it is coming from the Ministry of Communications. However, given the lack of secure infrastructure for national Email services, and the increasing use of foreign services, the implementation of this directive seems very unlikely.”
Farahani believes that forcing the local system onto users will do nothing more than create a sense of distrust.
The VP of IT at Parsian Bank (private bank) said:
“So far, the Central Bank has not passed on any orders to banks and there is a lot of time until we reach the implementation phase.”
Following the Minister of Communication’s announcements, The Center for National Development and Management of Internet announced www.ChMail.ir as one of the country’s national Email service providers.
Ch-Mail is a free service with SSL certification.
Secretary of the 30thFarj Film Festival drew attention to the importance of locally produced computer games. Mr. Khazaee added that games produced in foreign countries promote values contradictory to those of Iranian users. He further commented:
“Iranian computer games are effective tools for countering threats of the enemy’s Soft-War, and right now support for local production is necessary more than ever before.”
It has been a while since we’ve heard from the Supreme Council on Cyberspace:
Alireza Shah-Mirzaie, a council member, identified the inclusion of all three branches of the government as well as the IRIB (State Broadcasting), the IRGC and the Islamic Development Organization, as one of the most important reasons behind establishing the council.
He commented that in this age of globalization, many believe that services such as Facebook and Google have turned into a form of technological determinism, and one has no choice but to join them. He added:
“This is while many countries, parallel to this [global] growth have developed their own services, operators and companies – to the extent that increased access to the cyberspace has not affected the public’s use of local services.”
Shah-Mirzaie used South Korea as an example of a country ‘without a communist past’ (unlike China and Russia), which provides 60-70-percent of its services locally.
A hacker/IT expert was the guest of Iran’s Channel Two “90-ICT” program. The subject of last Thursday’s program was IT security. The hacker called on IT managers in the country to pay particular attention to future threats, specially those stemming from free soft-ware. He used Babylon Dictionary as an example of such a threat, since it is apparently used at many government agencies.
Abdol-Sammad Khorram-Abadi, Secretary of the Committee to Determine Instances of Criminal Content said:
“The only legal authority in the country with decision making powers on the matter of filtering is the Committee to Determine Instances of Criminal Content, and no other authority exists.”
In an April 2012 RFI (Request for Information) by The Research Institute for IT and Communications, the Refining [content] Committee had been identified as the highest authority on filtering in the country. Khorramabadi denied the existence of any such entity.