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Iran's government confirms crackdown on 'immoral' Internet sites

Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh here Wednesday confirmed that Iran had set up a committee to crack down on those Internet sites which churned out 'immoral' material, IRNA reported from Tehran.

"The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution has assigned a committee in connection with immoral sites and the telecommunications (company) has apparently started taking practical measures against these sites by blocking access to them," he said during a weekly briefing.

Press Tuesday quoted state prosecutor Abdonnabi Namazi as saying that the Judiciary was drawing up a bill to probe into Internet offenses amid rising shift to cyber entertainment in a country where more than 60 percent of the youth are aged below 20.

The move is part of the Islamic Republic's plans to regulate Internet use and clamp down on cyber-acquaintances and solicitations as well as exposure to offensive material.

The Persian daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami quoted a deputy post, telephone and telegraph minister as saying that the telecommunications company had shut down certain Internet sites which were involved in presenting 'immoral as well as political material'.

According to the daily, Massoud Davari-Nejad said that the telecommunications company was in negotiations to buy 'special software (equipment) which could professionally put filters on such sites'.

"Some of the sites promote immoral issues and are accessible after paying money," he said. "Several other sites ridicule religious and political figures of the country in an obscene manner," the daily quoted him as saying.

Police in Tehran last year shut down several 'cafenets', mushrooming throughout the 12-million capital at an unexpected pace which has caught officials off guard.

Since 2000, thousands of Internet cafes have opened throughout the 70-million nation, providing cyber and cheaper telecommunications services to a nation, which has at least a two-million expatriates.

The phenomenon has been met with warm welcome among the country's young generation, mostly for recreational purposes, which has occasionally found political overtones in the wake of Iran's cultural and religious background.

... Payvand News - 5/8/03 ... --

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