"The Mirror has two faces": The Islamic Republic's dual policy toward the internet

Liora Hendelman-Baavur*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hassan Rouhani's sweeping victory in the election for presidency in June 2013 was soon followed by high-profile declarations of his political manifesto to recover Iran's international standing, improve its economy, and solve the country's social dilemmas. On various occasions during his campaign and after his election, Rouhani spoke of the need to reduce government intervention in people's private lives and to increase transparency in addressing the country's problems, the significance of gender equality in rights and opportunities, and the futility of the country's current internet censorship policy. Coinciding with the president-elect's advocacy of reducing Iran's Internet restrictions, the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MICT), announced the launch of the country's "national email" service. Provided by the state's post company, Iran email-meli is set to assign an individual email address to every citizen for "security and privacy" purposes, with the intention of "improving" the interaction between the authorities and the country's 42 million reported Internet users (comprising more than half of Iran's population). This initiative is part of the Islamic Republic's ongoing efforts to establish a "clean" and "moral" national intranet. However, many of Iran's savvy internet-users suspect the government and security agencies intend to further increase their web control, and that the MClT's development of the domestic Internet, announced in 2011, actually designed to serve as a filternet. This article focuses on the Islamic Republic's dual policy toward the Internet. On the one hand, Iran's leadership aims to develop and expand local ICT services to promote its regional and international interests and priorities, especially in response to the country's ongoing "soft-war" with the West. The regime also invests and trains the country's younger generation in and through the use of advanced technologies, with the additional aim of projecting a democratic image. On the other hand, Iranian authorities are making arduous efforts to maintain high levels of control and censorship over the local media, including the Internet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


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