Iran To Issue National Email Addresses to All Citizens

The country's communication minister announced all citizens will receive a domestic email address for electronic communications with government agencies. Is this a move to protect citizens' privacy, as the country contends—or part of a broader effort to regulate the Internet?

Iran will begin assigning state-issued email addresses to all citizens, a move officials are contending will maintain citizens' privacy and facilitate communication between the state and the people.

Though some details remain unclear—such as whether this program is a broader effort to regulate the Internet and keep tabs on citizens—the news isn't too surprising given the country's previous actions. For years, Iran has discussed a domestic email service, and in the past, it has blocked foreign email services, such as Gmail and Yahoo, as well as VPN access. In September, the government announced a plan to create a domestic intranet to replace the Internet. Ahead of its June 14 elections, many users reported slow speeds in what critics say was an effort to thwart pro-reform candidates. In contrast, just last week, president-elect Hassan Rouhani, a moderate taking office next month, publicly called for the government and clergy to stop interfering in the private lives of citizens, including filtering the Internet.

Of the country's 75 million people, about 32 million use the Internet. Announced over state television by communications minister Mohammad Hassan Nami, the national email addresses, which will bear the domain, must be used for electronic communications with the government. Though he notes this will help protect users' privacy, he didn't further elaborate. Iran's postal service will oversee the domestic email service.

[Flickr user Shane Pope]

Flickr user Shane Pope

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  • Change Iran Now

    Iran's launch of a new domestic email service is not some
    nationalistic response to Gmail, it's an effort to further control and monitor
    online usage by the Iranian people. If you think what the NSA was doing was an
    invasion of privacy, just imagine what you will get when a government actually
    runs your email service. Not even China does that! They at least have the
    courtesy of providing the illusion of privacy by reading your email as it
    passes through servers the government controls. The Khamenei-led government
    doesn't want a repeat of 2009's social media outburst and they've seen what has
    happened in Egypt, Syria and other countries. Online access = political mobilization
    and Iran is terrified by that which is why it's launched this service. So much
    for the so-called "moderation" of president-elect Rowhani.

  • WellWisher

    a another way forward towards own version of internet, Iran is following chinese model of internet censorship, this will definitely reduce the freedom on internet for the people of Iran, to a great number Iranians use vpn tools like to ensure their privacy by acquiring a different IP and unblock whatever site without being tracked.... Iran should open its doors to the world of interent