Internet law: Iranian parliament speaker calms down | free press


A new law for even more internet censorship sparked a huge wave of protests in Iran. Now comes a message of reconciliation.

Tehran (AP) – Following the unprecedented wave of protests against a new internet law in Iran, the speaker of parliament tried to placate a message.

“All the media reports about this are not true,” Mohammed Bagher Ghalibaf wrote on Instagram on Thursday. According to Ghalibaf, popular online services such as Instagram and WhatsApp should not be blocked by law, but their “technical parameters” should be checked by experts. Ultimately, the parliament will make a rational decision, said the parliament speaker, who is currently in Syria.

After much back and forth, the hardliners in parliament will pass their new internet law on Wednesday. Due to the many points of contention, it was not discussed publicly. The details are to be finalized in a technical committee and then, according to the constitution, passed to the so-called Guardian Council for final confirmation.

Officially, the law deals with Internet surveillance and nationalization, i.e. creating Iranian alternatives to popular online services. Critics, however, see the arguments in parliament as legal clich├ęs and the trial as a distraction to obscure the real purpose of paralyzing many platforms. In addition, the law requires all internet users to be registered and bans all VPN apps that Iranians use to access unauthorized websites through data tunnels.

The parliamentary decision sparked an unprecedented wave of protests across the country. The law was also criticized in government circles as irrational and illegal and warned of a separation between society and political leadership.

The Internet has been a thorn in the side of the Islamic establishment for years because it has completely undermined the state-controlled media.