Iran Set to Shut Down Internet, Report Says

April 10, 2012 Updated: April 11, 2012

The Iranian government is in the process of denying its citizens access to the Internet, including popular social media sites and e-mail services, and will replace it with a national Intranet in five months, the International Business Times reported on Tuesday.

IB Times said Reza Taghipour, head of Iran’s ministry of information and communications technology, announced that the country would instate a nation-wide Intranet while blocking outside access in a statement issued late last week.

In May, Iran will effectively block access to Google, Hotmail, and Yahoo services, which will be replaced by Iran Mail and Iran Search Engine, the IB Times said. At this first stage, other websites will be accessible.

The final stage of the project will start in August, which will deny Iranians access to the Internet as a whole. “All Internet Service Providers (ISP) should only present National Internet by August,” Taghipour was quoted as saying.

Iranian officials in recent months have denounced the Internet and Facebook as being degrading to Iranians’ moral values and national identity.

Since the IB Times report, Iran has denied that it has plans to cut access to the Internet by August, AFP reported.

“The report is in no way confirmed by the ministry,” a statement from Taghipour’s office said, adding that it is “completely baseless,” AFP reported.

The ministry said that the quotes were derived from a hoax interview that never actually happened.

Iran does have plans to create a “national information network” that would function as a closed-off system, but it is unclear if Tehran is seeking to cut off outside websites.