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Under pressure, Iranian MPs postpone internet restriction bill

Iran’s parliament has suspended its review of a highly controversial bill that would lead to heightened internet restrictions within the country, according to citizens and businesses. The bill was first proposed three years ago and is titled the Protecting Users in Cyberspace and Organizing Social Media Act. However, despite the name, critics say that the bill aims to introduce more controls in a country in which most prominent global services are already restricted or banned. An online petition calling for the legislation to be ditched received almost half a million signatures. The Minister of Information and Communications Technology Javad Azari Jahromi denounced the bill in letters addressed to the parliament speaker. The letters surfaced on Sunday.

Mr. Jahromi stated that the bill will limit Iranian’s access to information, weaken the government’s role in cyberspace decision-making, and render his ministry useless. Raisi, Iran’s incoming president, has previously announced his support for a layered internet access system that would be based on a variety of criteria, including profession. The legislation may still pass through the parliament given that there are a number of lawmakers backing it. For the bill to become a law, however, it will need to be approved by the Guardian Council. On Monday, 47 of Iran’s largest digital businesses, online retailers, streaming services, and ISPs expressed their concerns regarding the controversial bill.

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