UN human rights experts have issued a statement calling on the Iranian government to suspend recent steps to pass a new Internet surveillance plan that would isolate Iran from the international Internet community.
The statement was issued jointly by Javid Rahman, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran, Irene Zubeida Khan, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Expression, and Alexandra Shantaki, Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights at the United Nations.
These experts have warned that the Iranian parliament is going to bypass the authority of this institution within the framework of the constitution to monitor the work of the Internet, by approving a plan called “Internet protection” in the coming weeks.

“This is a worrying move to strengthen a digital wall in Iran and make it more difficult for information to circulate in a country where freedom of expression and other fundamental rights are severely restricted,” UN human rights experts said in a statement. “At the same time, it is a clear violation of citizens’ rights to participate in cultural life and access cultural resources.”
“In the past, we have expressed our concern about this plan by contacting the responsible institutions,” UN human rights experts said in another part of their statement. “Unfortunately, the Iranian government has not responded to our letters and recommendations, and our concerns have not been addressed in this plan.”

These experts point out that the new plan, in addition to restricting the flow of news and information, will also hit business and economic activities and will have a devastating effect on areas that rely on communication technology for their activities and development, such as education and medicine.
UN human rights experts add: “The Iranian government has always claimed that these sectors have been affected by US sanctions and lack of access to scientific communication technology. “The Iranian government’s move to restrict trade and the exchange of scientific and educational information between Iran and the world is now an unfortunate irony.”
“There is no question that in today’s world, the economic and social development of societies depends on access to information and providing a suitable environment for the exchange of ideas and cultural and scientific resources. “We call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to reconsider the approval of this plan.”
The draft of the plan, which was first introduced in 2019, gives the government and the armed forces the control over the infrastructure and communication of Iran’s Internet network with the World Wide Web. If the plan is approved, Internet technology companies will be required to follow “government guidelines” on the width and blocking of Internet lines.
The approval of this plan will most likely block the remaining activities of the websites belonging to foreign companies, Iranian citizens will be forced to declare their identity (national card) to access the Internet, and the sale and distribution of virtual private networks will be considered a crime.
In addition, social networks will be required to cooperate with the government in the field of control and censorship.
In November 2019, at the same time as the nationwide protests, the Iranian government completely cut off access to the Internet for a week. UN human rights experts at the time expressed concern that a complete cessation of Internet access would lead to human rights abuses and the overuse of repressive tools against protesters. At least 324 people were killed during the protests.
Restrictions or complete shutdowns of the Internet have continued since then, especially when popular protests take place in Iran.
The activity of social networks such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Telegram and Signal is prohibited in Iran.