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Iranian officials have been assuring the public that the establishment of the [National Information Network] NIN will not cut them off from the Internet. The NIN, according to the government, will provide a “faster, safer, and more reliable” network for domestic purposes, in addition to the global Internet for daily usage.

What the officials have been less vocal about is that the NIN will make it easier for them to monitor user activities and carry out surveillance. Moreover, the establishment of the NIN as an independent network from the Internet will provide officials with the option of cutting off access without affecting the country’s administration. Shutting down the Internet in the aftermath of the contested 2009 elections, for example, was problematic since it interrupted banking and government operations. With the establishment of the NIN, a similar outage will not interrupt internal network traffic.