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Iran Slaps Tight Restrictions on Foreign Email Users

Vital Iranian companies are apparently being required to cease use of foreign-based email addresses if they wish to continue doing business in the country. The move continues Iran’s movement toward a more centralized, locally-based approach to digital communications, but goes the extra step by requiring that these companies also refuse communication to any person without a national email address.

The news comes from the AFP and attributes the information to Asr Ertebatat. The companies in question provide essential services to Iranian citizens, including insurance companies, telephone companies, and banks. Under the new restrictions, users wishing to communicate with these companies must do so with a state-sourced iran.ir, post.ir, or chmail.ir email address.

Government offices and employees, as well as university staff, have also been required to switch over to nationally-sponsored email addresses. Additionally, Iran recently moved many of its government websites onto locally operated servers. It should be noted that Iran previously halted access to Gmail entirely.

As a crackdown goes, it is an interesting one as it does not expressly forbid individuals from using foreign email services. However, it makes it very hard to do business without one. This is inline with Iran’s previously enacted foreign Internet restrictions, which has blocked or greatly slowed speeds to websites hosted outside the country.

There have been recent reports that the Iranian government plans to eventually sever its country’s connection to the rest of the world-wide web. However, it seems far more likely that most of the non-Iranian Internet will simply be difficult to access, while locally-hosted websites and services will be far speedier and reliable. The email restrictions would seem to fall in well with these model.

However, that doesn’t make this recent news any less disconcerting.

(AFP via TNW)

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