The supreme leader of Iran ordered the creation of a new government agency to monitor cyberspace Wednesday, an aggressive step in the country’s ongoing crackdown on Internet activities by its people.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a decree calling for a Supreme Council of Cyberspace, an entity that would be headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and include other top Iranian officials, including the intelligence chief and the head of the Revolutionary Guards.
“Planning and constant coordination” of the Internet are needed “to prevent its damages and consequences,” the decree from Khamenei said. The council should have “a constant and comprehensive monitoring over the domestic and international cyberspace,” it added.
Iranian officials have lamented in the past that the Internet could open the nation to a cultural invasion from the West and make it vulnerable to computer viruses, such as the Stuxnet worm that attacked its nuclear facilities. Many believe the malware was created by Israel or the United States to block Iran’s nuclear progress.
Any orders that the cyberspace council issues would be treated as law, the order from Khamenei said. Members would serve on the council for three years.
“If such a council really becomes effective and not just on paper, then I should be scared for my blog, my email, my Facebook — in short my cyber-identity,” a 32-year-old Iranian blogger and activist said, speaking anonymously to avoid possible government persecution. “But hopefully we will find some counter-attack.”
Hopefully. But how much longer must Iranians endure a government that is clearly not worthy of them?