‘Halal’ internet means more control in Iran after unrest
Over the past four years, authorities have encouraged wider use of the internet among Iranians, hoping to generate the benefits of a more modern economy. As a result, nearly half the population have in their pockets a tool that the state is struggling to constrain: smartphones, with cameras and internet links that let anyone broadcast to the world.
Those smartphones helped spread the startling burst of protests across Iran that opened 2018. The government succeeded in suffocating the flare-up in part by shutting off key social media and messaging apps, but the lesson was clear: The same oxygen that can resuscitate commerce can also give breath to potential revolt.
Authorities’ solution has been to create a so-called “halal net,” Iran’s own locally controlled version of the internet aimed at restricting what the public can see.