World Bulletin / News Desk
Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network in what officials say is a bid to improve cyber security.
The announcement, made by a government deputy minister on Sunday, came as state television announced Google Inc's search engine and its email service would be blocked "within a few hours".
"Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice," an official identified only by his last name, Khoramabadi, said, without giving further details.
The Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) said Google ban was connected to the anti-Islamic film posted on the company's YouTube site which has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world. There was no official confirmation.
Iranians commonly overcome the government filter by using virtual private network (VPN) software that makes the computer appear as if it is based in another country.
But officials have long spoken of creating an Iranian Internet system which would be largely isolated from the World Wide Web.
"In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices ... have been connected to the national information network," deputy communications and technology minister Ali Hakim-Javadi was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
The second phase of the plan would be to connect ordinary Iranians to the national network, he said.
According to Iranian media, the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013 but it was not clear whether access to the global Internet would be cut once the Iranian system is rolled out.
Even using VPNs, many Iranians suffered serious problems accessing email and social networking sites in February, ahead of parliamentary elections.
Police are yet to make any arrests in connection with more than a dozen arson attacks against Muslims shops, mosques and a burial ground in the past month.
Abductees are teachers in Chinese language center in provincial capital Quetta, police say
Cathedral of Our Lady Help also burned by ISIL-linked militants in southern city of Marawi
Philippines need modern weapons to fight militants, Duterte says
The announcement, made by his spokesman at a press conference in Moscow where Duterte was on an official visit, fulfils an often-repeated warning by the president that he would enforce military rule to quell security threats.
Jakarta’s former governor Purnama was awarded two-year imprisonment on charges of blasphemy
Muslim leaders build Islamic school in troubled Mindanao to help government’s anti-terror campaign
Taliban claim they killed up to 35 soldiers in southern Kandahar province
China -- the North's sole major diplomatic ally and key trading partner -- has stopped buying coal from it, denying the regime access to a key source of the hard currency needed to fund its weapons programmes.
Historic trial underway at Seoul Central District Court
The nine Royal Malaysian Navy crew members, who had been missing since Saturday off the southern state of Johor near Singapore, had earlier been spotted by an airforce plane.
Seoul presses ahead with dialogue policy, despite second missile test
Sirisena swapped the portfolios held by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in a shake up aimed at quelling dissent within the uneasy government he has led since August 2015.
"The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive. We urge all sides to avoid provoking each other and continue on the right track of dialogue and consultation," she said.
The US, South Korea and Japan sharply denounced the launch and jointly requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the matter.