The Majles, Iran’s parliament, has voted in favor of a bill to restrict Iranians’ internet access in a move that could further isolate the country’s citizens from the free flow of information.
Only about two-thirds of Iran’s 288 MPs cast ballots in the July 28 vote on the bill, the “Users’ Rights Protection Plan for Cyberspace.” The tally was 121 in favor, 74 opposed.
The bill envisions blocking access to all “foreign messaging apps” and social media platforms. Only apps and social media platforms that obtain permits to be used in Iran will not be blocked by the government. Furthermore, social media users will no longer be allowed to use any such platform anonymously, according to the text of the legislation published by IMNA (Iran’s Metroplises News Agency).
The Majles vote comes following repeated calls by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for more internet restrictions. In his remarks this March on the occasion of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, Khamenei called for more stringent management of “cyberspace” in the country, saying it was not “something to be proud of” that Internet access was “unrestricted” in Iran and that it should be “regulated.”
“People should be allowed to use the internet, which is a tool for freedom, but this [cyber] space should not be surrendered to the enemy.”
Iranian social media users have taken to Twitter to protest the internet censorship bill using hashtags such as #Internetshutdown in English and others in Persian, including the following: