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Iran develops software to control access to social networks

The chief of the country's national police tells local media that the "intelligent software" will give residents limited access to social networks.

Iran's government is developing "intelligent software" designed to give citizens controlled and restricted access to banned social-networking sites, the chief of Iran's national police tells the local media.

"Smart control of social networks will not only avoid their disadvantages, but will also allow people to benefit from their useful aspects," Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam said, according to a 7Sobh report cited by AFP. "The designing of intelligent software to control social networking Web sites" is under way.

"Smart control of social networks is better than filtering them completely," he said.

Access to social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter is blocked by the country's government, which has been waging a battle against what it calls "inappropriate" content on the Internet. After blocking access to Google's search engine and YouTube in September, Iran's government launched a video-sharing site to promote Iranian culture.

The country's government cut off access to the Internet several times last year, with the latest incident blocking access to all encrypted international sites outside the country that operate on the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocol. Quite aware of the censorship they face, many Iranians use proxy servers over virtual private networks to circumvent government restrictions.

The country has reportedly been developing a national intranet in an effort to create a "clean Internet." All government agencies and offices have already been connected to the "national information network," and connecting citizens to the network is the next expected step, according to a Reuters report in September.