Disagreement of MPs with the way to continue internet filtering

Ahmed Naderi, a member of parliament on November 21, at the University of Tehran, reports that a group of parliamentarians are seriously opposed to the intense filtering of the past two months. He said that the Speaker of the Parliament is pursuing the removal of the filtering of two social networks:Directly on behalf of a large part of the parliament, which we are part of, Qalibaf has been and continues to pursue the removal and fixing of the Instagram and WhatsApp filters. In some places, serious debates have been raised and will continue.” He went on to say that this policy has not worked and we must change the policy.

Another representative, Rashidi Kochi, who had previously announced his opposition to the protection plan, today, on November 22, confirmed Nader’s words that the Speaker of the Parliament and some representatives are against the filtering of social networks. Kochi further reminded the role of the security authorities in filtering: “The decision of the security authorities is to temporarily filter some social networks where chaos is formed until peace returns to the society.” The same authorities whose names are mentioned every time the Minister of Communications is asked about the removal of Instagram and Telegram filters. Zarepour had previously said, with the start of filtering and strict restrictions, that the decision of filtering rests with the country’s security council. The National Security Council is formed under the chairmanship of the Minister of the Interior, and some jurists believe that its decisions are valid for up to 30 days, after which it must seek permission from the parliament. But the representative of Bushehr said in an interview with ILNA on 27 Mehr that when he asked the Minister of Communications about removing Internet restrictions, he said that the removal of restrictions was conditional on the opinion of the Supreme National Security Council, and in early November, the commander of the inactive defense also ordered Instagram and WhatsApp filters to The Supreme National Security Council attributed and said that this resolution will continue until these companies commit to comply with the laws of the country. The National Security Council is a subsidiary of the Supreme National Security Council and one of the members of the Supreme National Security Council is the speaker of the parliament.

According to Naderi, the Speaker of the Parliament, who today is pursuing the removal of the filter of these two social networks, had previously referred a plan to the Supreme Council of Cyberspace for consideration and approval, which is the most restrictive plan that has been approved so far on the issue of cyberspace. The “Virtual Users Regulation System” plan, which is the same as the “Protection of users’ rights in cyber space and organization of social messengers” plan. Referring this project to the Supreme Council of Cyberspace, which always has positions to control and limit users, was interpreted by some representatives as bypassing the parliament. The referral of this plan ultimately entrusted the Supreme Council of Cyberspace with the authority to create regulations and supervision.

Security news continues. According to the news that has just arrived from the parliament, it seems that the joint security commission is meeting again. These news coincided with what the media reported about the new plan of the parliament to further restrict cyberspace and criminalize its activities. The joint security committee of the parliament had once approved the security plan, which was abandoned due to its illegal process. On November 12, Hossein Noushabadi, a member of the Joint Commission, announced the continuation of the additional sessions of this commission. He pointed to the promotion of cyber space and domestic messengers and said: “I am a member of the Joint Commission for the Protection of Cyber ​​Space and the purpose of this commission is the growth and promotion of domestic messengers, some signs of its progress can be seen now, and additional meetings will be held next week. It will continue.” Until now, the Instagram and WhatsApp filters have mostly benefited these domestic messengers, whose promotion with government support was on the agenda of this plan and the joint commission. But here too, a voice of opposition from a group of representatives was heard. The deputy of parliament’s rules announced that the representatives opposed the continuation of the work of the joint commission in the closed session voting. However, on November 14, the news of the re-establishment of the joint commission for the protection of users’ rights in the cyberspace came, in a situation where some members had a position to open this issue. Bagheri, one of the members of the commission, said: “I don’t know what issue is going to be discussed in this meeting. In my opinion, in the current situation of the country, it is not advisable to reopen such sensitive issues.” It is not clear what happened in this meeting, but Anabastani, a member of the parliament, told the Economic World that this meeting was not about the protection of cyberspace, although he did not say that it was not related to cyberspace: “We are talking about various current issues of the country, and one of the issues of the country today is “It is virtual space, but this matter has nothing to do with the protection plan.”

Therefore, it seems that there are different views about filtering in the parliament, a view that considers it necessary according to the protection plan and a view that is against this plan. Naderi says that the Speaker of the Parliament is continuing to remove the Instagram and WhatsApp filters, but his continued speech does not necessarily mean removing the filtering and removing the restrictions:

In the matter of filtering, we, that is, a part of the parliament headed by the speaker of the parliament, are particularly demanding that the current filtering be removed. The filtering policy does not and has not worked in this sense. Our serious discussion is that since the 1960s and 1970s, when we filtered the video and satellite channels, and in 1996, there was the Golden Telegram, which was launched by an internal organization, what happened after they removed it and how did it come forward. This policy does not work and it has not worked, so we must renew the policy and the way of dealing with it must be new and new events should take place based on the understanding of the problem.

He specifically objects to the current filtering and talks about new policies. Before him, some opponents of filtering in this way considered its alternative to intelligent or asymmetric filtering, which will make access to the Internet class-based. Age, job, scientific position are the criteria that have been announced so far to fix the heterogeneous internet filter. Systematizing, legalizing, and organizing the virtual space are terms that are sometimes heard by representatives who declare their opposition to filtering. Ahmad Rastineh, the spokesperson of the Cultural Commission, said earlier that he does not agree with filtering, but he agrees with the legality of this space. A week after this comment, he announced that “We must have two actions on the agenda, firstly, we all seek to regulate and legalize the virtual space, and the second issue is defining and determining access levels. Nader’s emphasis on the non-answer of “filtering in this sense” may mean that filtering in another sense will be on the agenda, and maybe parliamentarians against filtering Instagram and WhatsApp will succeed in getting permission to remove the filter of these two, but it is not clear what their plan is. What is there for regulation in this space?

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