News / Middle East

Iran Plans to Create Domestic Internet Search Engine

Iran is vowing to replace Western internet search engines with its own homegrown version, amid complaints from the country's supreme leader that the net is being used to corrupt Iranian youth.

During the weekend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praised the development and expansion of the internet inside his country, amid signs his government is working to increase control over Iranians' access to the world-wide web.

He says Iran must start the process of developing its own indigenous knowledge base, and use this as a way to share resources and information. Then, he adds, Iran can expand the network to neighboring states, becoming a global player and providing information on the global stage.

Iranian TV spoke with information technology experts, who demonstrated the prototype of Iran's own internet search-engine, dubbed "ya haq", or "the truth", in an apparent play on words with the U.S. search engine Yahoo. The new site is expected to be fully operational by 2012.

The director of Iran's government-run technology company, Hadi Malek-Parast, took President Ahmadinejad's thoughts a step further, telling Iran's Mehr news agency that his researchers are working to "develop a local intranet, rather than an internet, to give access only to official or approved websites."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned the West for allegedly trying to "manipulate" Iranian youth in a recent speech, portions of which are rebroadcast on Iranian TV every day:

He says that Iran's enemies have set their sights on young people and they are trying to manipulate them and force them to stray from what he calls the "right" path.

Internet experts say Iran is increasingly worried that new, secure forms of Yahoo, Google and other top internet websites are providing young people with a free flow of information the government can no longer control.

Analyst Meir Javedanfar, of the MEEPAS Center in Tel Aviv, believes Iran is trying to re-exert control over its domestic internet, rather than to simply block Google or Yahoo:

"It is about control. I do not think the Iranian regime is going to stop Yahoo and Google from functioning as search engines, because it needs [them] for its own research purposes and for Iranian businesses, which are operated by the government," said Javedanfar. "What the Iranian government is trying to do is to take away their share of the search engine market and to bring the Iranian user to the site that it wants [him] to see."

Iranian-born analyst Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute in Washington says government censorship of the press is something that dates back to the start of the Islamic Republic, but that it has gotten worse recently, especially after last year's controversial presidential election:

"They see the free flow of information to young people in Iran as probably one of the biggest dangers facing the country," said Vatanka. "They look at how the young are technologically savvy, literate, and interested. There is this thirst for information, for debate, and the Khameneis and Ahmadinejads of this world are trying to choke the flow of information."

But Vatanka says the Iranian people are too intellectually sophisticated for the government's tactics to work. "I see a Chinese model of government control over the internet prevailing," he insists, not a thoroughly sealed North Korean model.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs