Iran has taken another step toward creating its own intranet by opening a national email service, according to state television.
Mohammad Hasan Nami, the Information and Communication Technology minister, said the software for the email system was created by Iranians and that each Iranian citizen will be assigned an email address.
Iran’s postal service will manage the email program.
Alex Vatanka, a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said Iran has looked to the Chinese Internet censorship model, but was unsure to what extent China assisted with the national email system. He called the email service a gimmick and said that he doubted any activist would use the state-run email system.
Iranians are regularly subjected to blockages of foreign email providers like Gmail or Yahoo and the government restricts access to websites it finds objectionable, such as those run by opposition groups.
Many tech savvy Iranians use virtual private networks to skirt these restrictions, a practice the government has declared illegal.
Iran has long said it wants to create its own national intranet, which officials say will be free of un-Islamic content and will be easier to monitor.
An estimated 32 million of Iran’s 75 million people are Internet users.