Iran’s telecommunications minister has said his technicians are developing a system to identify any Internet user in the country at the moment of log-on, the ISNA news agency reported Saturday. Mahmoud Vaezi did not explain how they would identify the users. The minister announced a month ago that the Islamic republic would introduce “smart filtering” within six months to weed out Internet content the authorities deem offensive or criminal. The authorities regularly block access to networks including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter since public protests against the 2009 re-election of Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Because of our efforts, in future when people want to use the Internet they will be identified, and there will be no web surfer whose identity we do not know.
Iran’s telecommunications minister Mahmoud Vaezi
Iran formed a special Internet police unit in early 2011 to combat “cyber crimes”, particularly on social networking sites which are popular among the opposition and dissidents. In October, Iran prevented access to an Instagram page devoted to the lifestyle of Tehran’s young elite that stirred indignation in the sanctions-hit country. Internet censorship is a bone of contention between conservative hardliners and government members including President Hassan Rouhani who use social networks. Official figures show that more than 30 million people out of Iran’s total population of 75 million use the Internet.