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 mail.post.ir, 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.