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Up yours, Google! Iran to launch OWN state email service

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The Iranian government is set to roll out a national email service to all of its citizens in another ominous step towards the dismantling of their online freedoms.

There’s not much detail on the new home-grown service, which was apparently reported in local media and on state-run TV, except that it will use the “mail.post.ir domain” and will be run by the country’s postal service, according to Reuters.

The newswire quotes communications minister Mohammad Hassan Nami as saying that the service has been designed to enable “mutual interaction and communication between the government and the people”.

There’s no news yet on whether an email address will be mandatory, or if the Islamic republic is planning to completely block all other email services once the government scheme is up and running, although online freedoms have certainly been on the wane there for several years.

There have been rumours dating back to last year, for example, that the authorities are planning to control the surfing habits of Iranians by effectively cutting the country off from the rest of the internet and running a nationwide intranet.

The government has already blocked Gmail and other foreign websites intermittently in the past and even launched its own YouTube-like video sharing site, known as Mehr.

VPN services and social networking sites were also targeted in the run-up to the recent presidential elections, in what some claimed was an attempt to prevent protesters from organising themselves, as happened in 2009.

It remains to be seen whether incoming Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, who is nominally against repressive web filtering and state interference, will effect any serious change once he comes to power.

If Iran does restrict its users to a single government-run email service, malicious messages and spam from the domain will be particularly easy for security vendors to trace. ®

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