Iran Cracks Down on Internet Cafes
An Iranian woman uses a computer at a cybercafe.
CREDIT: U.S. State Department
Iran has announced a set of 20 stringent guidelines aimed at keeping tabs on Internet use at cybercafés and furthering the government's total control over the private Web surfing of its citizens.
Under the new rules, cybercafés are required to register the name, father's name, national ID number, postal code and telephone number of all cybercafé customers. Café owners are required to keep customers' personal information as well as a record of the websites they visit for six months, and should deny Internet use to anyone who does not show their ID.
The Internet clampdown comes as another strictly governed nation, Belarus , announced a new law, effective tomorrow (Jan. 6), which mandates that anyone doing business in the country must use the domestic ".by" domain for services, online sales and email exchanges.
Iran's rules prohibit the use of any tools like virtual private networks (VPNs) that allow customers to access banned websites. More draconian, however, is rule 17, which requires that cybercafé owners install closed-circuit TV cameras and keep video records for six months.
Announced Jan. 3, Internet café owners have 15 days to implement the guidelines.
The international news organization Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty said the Internet restrictions are ostensibly designed to increase security and prevent the "theft of information," but that the rules may also be part of Iran's plan to launch a national Internet, which some speculate could occur in the next two weeks.