On June 6, 2021, TasnimNews, IRGC affiliated news agency, published an interview with Reza Taghipour, a member of the “Islamic Consultative Assembly”, Islamic Republic version of “parliament.” Taghipour confessed 170 “representatives” have signed a bill in which the cyberspace and social media would be extremely restricted, or as he called it, “organized.” He announced the bill will be up for vote on the floor soon!
The first reports about the “Protecting Online Users and Organizing Social Media” bill came out in August 2020, when Tasnim released its full text. Western media perceived it as a “hardliners'” move to suppress freedom of speech, as if there was such thing in Iran! Many regime apologists in the west blamed everything on sanctions and US policies during Trump administration. However, the draft was first put together by the “reformists” in the 10th term of the Assembly, when Rouhani’s allies had “full control of the parliament” in September 2018! It was sent to the “Parliament Research Center” where there were some amendments and then “Cultural Commission” had a run at it in 2019, but then their term came to an end and the plan was sent to the back burner until the “hardliners,” colleagues of the “reformists,” took control of the “parliament.” The bill, which is backed by the majority of Islamic Republic officials, most importantly Khamenei himself, sends chills to the back of any freedom minded person.
According to this bill, all social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Telegram,… must follow Islamic Republic rules and register all users with their national ID cards. “Influential social media” will be limited to the ones approved by an “Organizing and Supervising Board.” All of those companies must introduce an “agent” in Iran as their representative and take full responsibility of its content. Any person or company providing “proxy servers or VPN” would be prosecuted, jailed and fined. The messages would be “controlled” as soon as a crime “hatches” against national security!
The “organizing and supervising board” would consist of representatives from the National Cyberspace Center, Islamic Consultative Assembly, Attorney General office, Ministry of Intelligence and Security, IRIB, IRGC Intelligence, Islamic Propaganda Organization, Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture, ICT Ministry and Police.
After wide reporting of the article, in the country, on social media and by Western media, TasnimNews deleted the interview! With the sham “Presidential Election” held on June 18, TasnimNews blamed the interview, its release and circulation on other news websites and social media on others, saying they all have “distorted the facts and performed magic!” At the same time, Taghipour retracted his comments and denied the interview ever happened. In the statement, Taghipour even threatened to file lawsuits against the ones who published the interview on their outlets, implying TasnimNews made up the whole article!
Reza Taghipour, former ICT Minister during second term of Ahmadinejad, and a member of the “Supreme National Cyberspace Council” appointed by the “Supreme Leader,” Ali Khamenei, has always been vocal about limiting the internet and initiating the “National Information Network,” an intranet cut off from the worldwide web.
He is rumored to be the ICT Minister of Raisi administration. On May 29, 2021, reports came out that he was appointed as the head of Raisi’s campaign in cyberspace, but after the interview was released, even those reports were denied! TasnimNews published the appointment letter but deleted it, even though, it is still on their Twitter feed!
“Reformists” or “Hardliners,” makes no difference for Iranians or the world. Islamic Republic as a whole, regardless of who the “president” is or who controls the “parliament,” wants destruction of Israel, expanding the “Shia Empire” across the region, therefore, sponsoring terrorist extremist groups everywhere. “Hardliner” or “reformists” fully support the IRGC and its missile programs. They all follow one agenda, nuclear talks or nuclear bombs, all is set by one person at the top, the “Supreme Leader.”
The Islamic Republic officials have always followed the same line of trickery, counting on the collective memory of the society. As “elections” approaches, anything that may anger people is deleted from the forefront of the news, and “nice words” are spoken for a few weeks!
However, this time, it is different. At the national level, people have been clear since 2017 protests, “Reformists, hardliners, this is the end.” That slogan got more radical and bolder during November 2019 nationwide protests. Human rights violations, suffocating freedom of speech, violation of women and children rights, and so many other crimes that are out of the scope of this article, are fundamental to the entirety of the regime. The entire regime is rotten to the core.
After November 2019, everything is different in Iran. It is time for the entire world to understand, there is no “reformists” or “hardliners” in Iran, there is only one party, “Hezbollah”, party of God (Supreme Leader).