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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs