The reintroduction of a contentious measure in Iran aims to restrict the country’s internet access
Iran– Iranian lawmakers have pushed through a contentious bill that will effectively shut most Iranians off from the internet and transfer over the country’s internet infrastructure to the military. On Feb. 22, a special parliamentary committee adopted the main concept of the three-year-old “Bill to Protect Users in Cyberspace.” Members of parliament sought to get the law through in July, but after significant opposition, they chose to back down.
Jalal Rashidi Koochi, a member of the special committee who was the only one to vote against the outline’s confirmation, began collecting signatures in parliament to bring the bill back to open session. He has gathered 150 signatures thus far. Iran’s parliament has a total of 290 members. Since the bill’s introduction, reformist Arman Daily said, there has been substantial opposition, particularly over worries that it would harm companies, violate citizens’ rights, and invade on internet users’ privacy.
The special committee should not have brought the bill to a vote while parliament was still debating the country’s planned budget, according to a member of parliament who talked to Arman Daily. He claimed that 45 minutes was insufficient time to analyze such a measure. The deputy of parliamentary laws, Behzad Pourseyed, also released a letter saying that the special committee had not followed regular parliamentary processes and that their vote was invalid.
Many Iranian Twitter users discussed their opposition to the measure using a Persian hashtag that included the bill’s name. Dissident Akbar Ganji, who now lives in the United States, shared a video from the previous presidential election in which Abdonasser Hemmati, the only Reformist permitted to run, lambasted then-front-runner Ebrahim Raisi, stating, “Do you know what would happen if you stop Telegram?” Thousands of thousands of jobs will be gone. “This isn’t North Korea,” says the narrator. Telegram is used by many Iranian small enterprises to do commerce and sales. Creating a tiered internet access scheme, which has been considered by officials in the past, would erect hurdles to entrance and add another layer of bureaucracy for Iranian firms.
“If you want a [strong] society, you have to let people select, even if they choose badly 100 times,” another Twitter user said, quoting the late cleric Morteza Mottahari, who was crucial in the creation of the Islamic Republic until his assassination. The cost of forcing [something] on individuals is greater than the cost of them making bad judgments.”