While Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York, his cronies at home are shutting every single one of their citizens out of the internet. Their reasoning: 'we may get attacked by zionist viruses.' Riiiight.
On Sunday, the Iranian state television network announced that Google and Gmail would be blocked "within a few hours." The ban will remain in effect until further notice.
Meanwhile, a government deputy minister announced they were going to put all their citizens in a "domestic internet network." While Iran has blocked sites that go against the government's views in the past, this will cut citizens off the internet completely.
This time they are planning to take everyone off the grid and into their own government-controlled corral. People are not longer going to be able to use virtual private networks to bypass governmental censorship and access information freely.
The deputy communications and technology minister Ali Hakim-Javadi says the operation is already under way: "In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices... have been connected to the national information network."
Officially, every Iranian will be in this cage by March 2013 but the government has not announced yet when they will effectively shut down access to the internet.
With Syria, Egypt and Libya still resonating in their twisted brains, the government and state media are babbling all kinds of excuses to what it seems like a simple move to blindfold its citizens and control the people by having full control of the information they have access to.
The first excuse was given by the Iranian Students' News Agency, who says the blocking was caused by the infamous "Innocence of Islam" video hosted on Google's YouTube service.
The government, however, says that they are doing this because two reasons. First, the "control over the Internet should not be in the hands of one or two countries" (which of course, is pure hypocrisy, given that they are forcing citizens onto their own network).
The second reason is computer attacks by external forces. According to Communications and Technology Minister Reza Taqipour, you can't trust the internet "especially on major issues and during crises." Major issues like Google taking the name Persian Gulf out of Google Maps, or crises like the virus that attacked their nuclear plants. [Reuters]