Iran launches the first part of its national data network

It'll be faster than the regular internet... and likely help with censorship.

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Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images
Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images

Iran made a lot of fuss about creating a national data network way back in 2005, and after 11 years it's finally ready... sort of. The country has launched the first phase of the network, which promises speeds up to 60 times faster than conventional internet in the area thanks to both local data centers and high-speed fiber optic lines. It'll only truly be finished by March 2017 (when the second and third phases will be in place), but the government claims that it'll be a "reliable, stable and safe" network that improves Iran's economy and overall independence.

Those statements are true on a basic level, as Iran has generally been at the mercy of sanctions (including after its nuclear shutdown deal) that limit what it can do. However, this is as much about maintaining the status quo as anything. A national network makes it harder for countries like the US to plant malware. Infiltrators would have to slip rogue code on to a computer inside the country, like what happened with Stuxnet. And of course, it's much easier for Iran to censor ideas on a domestic network -- it doesn't have to worry about foreign companies that are beyond its control. Iran's internet access isn't going away, but there's no doubt that officials would prefer to wean people off of it and assert more control.

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