After Gmail Ban, Iran Focuses on Own Internet

Block on email service lifted following complaints
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2012 1:36 PM CDT
After Gmail Ban, Iran Focuses on Own Internet
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fieldsa question during a press conference in New York after addressing the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Iran's ban on Gmail, launched in response to the anti-Islam video that sparked worldwide protests, has prompted a wave of complaints, including some from lawmakers themselves. Now, Iran has lifted the ban—and it's still working furiously to roll out its new version of the Internet in the country, one that's entirely "Iran-centric," the AP reports. Among new details:The Iranian Internet would include a search engine dubbed Fakhr, or "pride," and an email service called Fajr, or "dawn."

Official statistics suggest Iran is among the top 20 Internet-addicted countries, with more than 40% of the country online. The World Bank, however, suggests the figure is just 21%. Still, cyberspace has been central to Iranian life for years, with Facebook and Twitter driving election protests in 2009 and an Internet-patrolling task force led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself. Whether the government is capable of developing an alternate Internet remains an open question, however. Would users tolerate a state-crafted system after experiencing the sleek Gmail? "If there is Mercedes Benz on the street, that doesn't mean everyone drives a Mercedes," says an official. (More Gmail stories.)

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