Iran announces plans to create isolated local internet system, fate of global access unknown

Iranians have been having trouble accessing YouTube, Gmail and other Google services for some time now, but their digital world may be growing even smaller — Iran announced today that it plans to shuffle citizens onto its own domestic version of the web. Reuters reports that officials plan to connect citizens to the national information network that's currently in use at government agencies. Iran hopes to complete the transition by March of next year, and is already taking steps to isolate its population from certain international services. "Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice," an Iranian official added, noting that the ban would commence in "a few hours."

Some locals, such as the Iranian Students' News Agency, are attributing the ban to recent protests sparked by a trailer for an anti-Islamic film on YouTube called Innocence of Muslims, but the government has made no official comment on the reason behind the ban. The state isn't clear on the fate of the global internet in Iran, either — although it has talked about creating an isolated national network before. Here's hoping the new network will be a compliment to the Persian web, and not a substitute.

[Image credit: yeowatzup, Flickr]