In April 2011, Iran’s deputy vice president for economic affairs, Ali Agha-Mohammadi, explained his government’s plan to produce a “Halal Internet”—a communication network that complies with Muslim principles. “The aim of this network is to increase Iran and the Persian language’s presence in what has become the most important source of international communication,” he said. He expressed admiration for the Chinese system of Internet regulation and suggested that the new network would be a model for reshaping digital communication in other Muslim countries.
The prospect of a Halal Internet began appearing in Western headlines again in January, when Iranians reported unusually slow Web speeds and increasingly stringent content filters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These sites were instrumental in the 2009 uprisings in Tehran and other Iranian cities. The crackdown may be an effort to reduce the likelihood of more protests before the March 2012 parliamentary elections and soften the ground for the 2013 launch of the Halal Internet.