This might be Iran's idea of an April Fool's joke... but no one is laughing.
On Tuesday, Iran denied online reports that it had plans to cut internet access in August and launch its own isolated version of the web, an intranet.
The ministry of communication and information technology released a statement saying that a supposed interview with Communications Minister Reza Taghipour published on April 1 was a hoax, according to the AFP.
The statement said, "The report is in no way confirmed by the ministry" and said the false report served "the propaganda wing of the West and providing its hostile media with a pretext emanating from a baseless claim."
The hoax report had Taghipour saying that Iran would suspend popular services like Google and Hotmail in August of this year, replacing them with the government versions, according to the AFP.
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In March, Reporters Without Borders reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had talked of a national web, a "clean" version of the internet with Iran's own search engine and messaging service. The "Enemies of the Internet" report drew parallels between the alleged plans for Iran and Myanmar's current structure, where the authorities have a different kind of access to the internet than the rest of the population.
Tech blog Ars Technica picked up on the story and pointed out that in order to obtain an account on the state-approved mail service, users would have to register their identity with the Iranian government.
Taghipour did in fact say in early April that Iran will launch a "national information network" which would function as a totally closed system in the Islamic republic, beginning in March 2013. What remained unclear, NPR pointed out, was whether the intranet would replace the internet in Iran, or just operate parallel to it.
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