EghtesadOnline: The government’s policy is not to restrict access to the internet, the minister of information and communications technologies said in his first press conference on Dec. 18.
“I use unfiltered foreign internet platforms, but my redline is access to foreign filtered platforms,” Isa Zarepour was also quoted as saying by the news portal of Informatics Services Corporation referring to the issue of presence in social networks and the ministry’s stance toward filtering.
Support for Domestic Servers
Asked about intentionally slowing internet speed during a Q&A session, the minister denied pursuing such a policy.
"The government's policy is not to restrict access to the internet and the international traffic of users, because we believe that if the domestic server provides quality services, it can become popular among users. We support the domestic servers, but we do not impose any restrictions on foreign web traffic,” he added.
Zarepour noted that the ICT Ministry is seeking to increase internet speed with the development of the fiber-optic project and the strategy is to have a safe, high-quality and high-speed network.
“The current problem of internet quality and lack of development of fixed communications does not pertain to the past few months because the report of one of the reference sites in measuring internet speed shows that our situation in the field of mobile internet has been ranked 70-74, but in the field of fixed internet, Iran ranks 142nd among 180 countries, which is not a good ranking,” he said.
“We did not perform well in terms of internet development in the last 10 years, while fixed internet access is preferred by all countries. The orientation of developed countries is to provide access to users through fixed networks and there is no pressure on the mobile network due to frequency limitations.”
Some Services Restricted Worldwide
Commenting on ICT Ministry’s stance on filtering, Zarepour said, "As someone who has lived abroad for five years and traveled to 17 countries, I have noticed that there are restrictions on some services all over the world and countries have different redlines in this area.”
The minister noted that filtering is not a zero to one case, as all countries have accepted restrictions to improve cyberspace.
“I believe that cyberspace has become a way of life for people and should be regulated. If you have visited the cybercrime court and seen public lawsuits about the problems caused in cyberspace, you should ask us to defend the rights of the people in this space as the government. So, the prerequisite for upholding this rights is to manage cyberspace,” he said.
“If cyberspace becomes transparent, it will be in the interest of the players in this field and the platforms will know what tasks they are responsible for and which organization they would face.”
Plan to Negotiate With Foreign Platforms
In response to a question about the government's plan to negotiate with foreign platforms and regulate their presence in the country to achieve cyber sovereignty, the minister said the issue of cyber sovereignty and the lack of discipline of social platforms is a global problem, so a working group has been formed in the UN with the participation of various countries preparing a draft for the regularization of social platforms in the world.
"One of the active members of this working group is Iran, which is following up on this issue," he said.
The ICT minister stressed that the regulation of activities on social networks and platforms is a global view and not just that of Iran.
"All countries have decided to pursue this issue. We will follow this issue closely and one of our main plans will be to realize this issue. In this regard, we need to make the country's diplomatic apparatus more active," he said.
Making Cyberspace Safe for Children, Adolescents
Zarepour stated that cyberspace has strengths and challenges that need to be addressed.
"Even countries with platforms are concerned about adolescents and children in cyberspace and are making plans for it, but we did not act well in this regard," he said.
"All government agencies in the country must work to create a healthy and useful environment for children. We, as the ICT Ministry, have a mission to take positive measures and based on this; we will have a child operator by the end of the current Iranian year [ending March 20, 2022]." In this space, free of any inappropriate content, parents are given the option that if they wish to receive services from the child operator, these services will include a SIM card, content related to children and adolescents, and dedicated hardware for children.
"To create opportunities in cyberspace, we need national determination along with interaction with foreign platforms to improve this capacity. We hope this will happen under the management of the National Center for Cyberspace," Zarepour said.