The definition that can be understood from the national information network after reading at least 3 documents approved by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace is that this network is supposed to be the internal communication infrastructure of the country and various services such as e-government, e-health, smart judiciary and… Be placed on the infrastructure layer along with the internal content. In a word, the main concept that the “National Information Network” should focus on based on these documents is one word: independence!
But the notion of a national information network as an internal network covering the communication infrastructure falls into two distinct categories. On the one hand, some believe that this network should become the most important tool of Iran’s resistance against a technological attack that is intertwined with political hostilities on the other side of the border, and on the other hand, according to many experts and freedom of expression activists, It is on the way to separating Iran’s Internet from the world, which brings the country’s communication space closer to its Chinese counterpart.
The disconnection of the Internet in November 1998, and the failure of all services that provided services with the help of the Internet, and the activation of some Iranian services on the national information network in part and a half, have made users permanently pessimistic about the national information network.
What is the National Information Network?
The National Information Network According to the definition in the two documents explaining the requirements of the National Information Network, approved in 1995 and the master plan and architecture of the National Information Network, both of which were approved by the Supreme Council of Cyberspace in 1999, is the country’s cyberspace communication infrastructure. Services consist of three layers of infrastructure that form the basis of the network, including the provision of internal services such as e-government, smart city, e-health and internal content.
There are some requirements for this network, the most important of which are:
- Fully independent and protected networks over other networks (including the Internet) with the ability to manage interactions with them
- A network with the ability to offer a variety of content and global communication services for individuals with quality assurance, including mobility
- A network with the ability to establish secure and stable communication between the devices and vital centers of the country and…
- Repeated history for the national information network
The initial idea of launching this network was proposed in 2005 under the title of National Internet and National Internet Network, and its study stages were carried out in the ninth government. Then in 2010, due to the margins that already exist, the managers of the Ministry of Communications of the 10th government named it the National Information Network and included this network in the law of the Fifth Development Plan so that they could get a good budget for it. At that time, this project was supposed to be completed by the end of this program and in 2016. In 1389, that is, until the end of the tenth government, in addition to the reforms seen in this national project, the pilot phase and its pilot were also carried out.
This happened while the 11th government, after the ninth and tenth governments came to power, put it aside and redesigned the network. The new requirements of this network were determined by the High Council of Cyberspace, and even according to it, its initial version was inaugurated during the presidency of Mahmoud Vaezi in the Ministry of Communications of the 11th government.
The National Information Network is the communication infrastructure of cyberspace for organizations, executive bodies and businesses, which consists of three layers of technical infrastructure, services and content.
If you look at the news that has been published for at least the last 10 years, it is clear that history is repeating itself unbelievably for the national information network. For example, in the spring of 1986, the Minister of Communications of the Ninth Government announced the completion of a network project called the “National Internet Network” and in the fall of 1987, the CEO of the Information Technology Company or the current Technology Organization signed a new agreement to connect 100,000 schools to the National Internet. He said that the ministers of communications of the tenth and eleventh governments also spoke about the design and phasing of the start of the national information network, and the minister of communications of the twelfth government announced that 80% of the network’s infrastructure was advanced by signing a memorandum with the minister of education. In 1998, all schools were connected to the National Information Network. On the other hand, in the thirteenth government, there is talk of redefining the tasks of launching this network, and the Minister of Communications and Technology of the thirteenth government comments every time that the Ministry of Information and Communication is the Ministry of National Information Network and this network until the end of 1404 It is actually launched. However, in an interview with Zomit, his deputy for planning affairs said that the national information network was constantly being updated due to new technologies and that no time could be set for the national information network.
Independence in the national information network
“Independence” is a term that has been mentioned many times in the requirements section of the National Information Network Explanation Document. Whether the national information network should consist of communication infrastructures with completely independent internal management or whether the national information network should be completely independent and protected from other networks (including the Internet) with the possibility of interacting with them. The Ministry of Communications of the Twelfth Government tried to show the independence of the national information network through special tests.
For example, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, on the sidelines of a news program, announced that 142 tests had been conducted to test the independence of the national information network, so that if the Internet was cut off, the network would work on it and provide services, which he said had all 142 tests successful. . He believed that with the infrastructure provided for the national information network, it had developed it independently and provided the possibility of continuing to provide services to businesses on this network even in the event of an Internet outage.
Such a claim is made in a situation where many Iranian businesses are not able to provide services to their domestic users due to any interruption or disruption of the international Internet network; For example, in September 1997, due to problems in the country’s infrastructure network and Internet outage, users were not able to use many domestic banking services or online shopping sites for an hour. Given this situation, the question arises whether the idea that the national information network can continue to operate independently of the Internet is a realistic idea? Of course in this regard should not be interrupted Internet Aban 98, which according to the managers of the Ministry of Communications is a service of the National Information Network, was forgotten.
Who should complete the project?
In addition to the existence and non-independence of the national information network, it is also disputed which body or institution is responsible for setting up the various sections of the network. According to the requirements document of the National Information Network, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has been introduced as the operator of this network, and the National Cyberspace Center has been introduced as the supervisor of the implementation and completion of this network. But in the previous government, the Minister of Communications and his deputies in the Infrastructure Communication Company and the Information Technology Organization introduced themselves as the only developers of the infrastructure layer of the national information network and believed that in other layers of the network, including content, there is still no document and duties. Other devices are not specified in this section.
But the fact is that the current situation and some comments show that the lack of transparency in the duties of the officials launching the various layers of the national information network has not caused much difference between the National Cyberspace Center and the Ministry of Communications on this network.
What causes the National Cyberspace Center to not fully accept the claims of the former Ministry of Communications at the time, regarding the launch of the National Information Network, is on an issue called the development of native messengers and streamers, which is also emphasized in the National Information Network Requirements Document. Is.
So far, the secretary of the Supreme Council of Cyberspace and other members of the National Cyberspace Center have repeatedly stated that more than 90% of the country’s searches are done through Google and about 90% of users’ messages are exchanged in cyberspace via Telegram and WhatsApp. In such circumstances, how can the center believe that the claim that 80% of the national information network has been set up based on the requirements document of this network can be accepted? Both the Supreme Council of Cyberspace and the Ministry of Communications of the previous government stated that one of the reasons for the lack of clarity as to whether the national information network was launched was the lack of architecture for it. Following this incident, in September of 1999, the architecture of this network was approved by the council and notified to the Ministry of Communications of the Twelfth Government for implementation.
Looking for native hunters and messengers
But can launching a national information network at the request of the National Cyberspace Center help the growth of native search engines or messengers? It is more likely to contribute to sustainability in times of crisis.
Anjidani says that the establishment of a national information network, along with basic services such as search and native messengers, requires strong data centers in the country and clear and transparent rules for the security of users’ privacy. “In addition to the fact that local and functional services need a strong technical infrastructure to establish themselves on the national information network, on the other hand, they must be able to communicate easily with foreign countries, and this is due to the fact that “Some of the country’s security policies to communicate from abroad to inside face restrictions.” According to Anjidani, security policies and the implementation of filtering in the country, or considering a plan such as a plan to protect users in cyberspace, make it difficult to communicate inside and outside and develop an Iranian business, and this makes an Iranian business to provide services. Use foreign service providers with better quality, which will ultimately affect the full establishment of the national information network.
What can be understood from the various statements of the members of the High Council of Cyberspace is that the national information network for them is summarized in the national search engine and national or native messengers, and the national information network has not been launched until these two services are up on the national information network. .
* Adapted from Haruki Murakami’s book “From What Do I Talk About?”