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Iran curtails use of foreign e-mail providers

Banks, insurance firms, telephone companies, and their customers can no longer send e-mail from foreign-based addresses, restricting such services as Gmail and Hotmail.

Iran is cracking down on the use of foreign e-mail addresses.

The country's telecommunications ministry is now barring local banks, insurance companies, and phone operators from communicating with their clients using foreign e-mail providers, according to the AFP news service.

Based on information from Iranian news service Asr Ertebatat, the new order requires such industries to use addresses ending in the Iranian domain .ir, effectively preventing them from using such foreign providers as Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or MSN.

Customers of such companies are also included in the ban, requiring them to use local e-mail addresses in order to do business. Even further, government agencies and universities must also now use addresses in the .ir domain.

The move is part of the Iranian's government effort to secure and monitor communications in the country by cutting off ties to foreign Internet and e-mail providers, according to AFP.

A recent report claimed that Iran was getting ready to permanently cut off access to the global Internet for its citizens and replace it with its own national Internet.

The government had fiercely denied the report, calling it a "hoax."

However, the crackdown on foreign e-mail providers follows a previous announcement from Tehran that it would replace the Internet with a national network for government, banks, and other entities.