Iran has launched its own video-sharing website in response to the globally popular YouTube. Called Mehr, or affection in Farsi, the site aims to bring together the Persian-speaking members on the Internet, while also attempting to promote the Iranian culture. A loosely translated paragraph in the About Us section of the website reads, “Mehr is the media gateway to the various areas of written, audio and visual data to tailor this valuable benefit to English speakers.” IRIB Deputy Chief Lotfollah Siahkali was quoted by reports as saying, “From now on, people can upload their short films on the website and access (IRIB) produced material.”
Mehr, interestingly, is on Facebook too and the page has garnered 22 likes so far. On its Facebook page, users can find links to some of its content.
The launch of its homegrown, video-sharing website Mehr comes just months after the nation first blocked, then unblocked Gmail, Google’s widely popular email service. However, the unblocking, reportedly, was only because the country aimed to set up additional, stricter blocks for YouTube. The secure version of Google search, which runs on the HTTPS protocol, was also been unblocked. Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, the secretary of an official group tasked with detecting Internet content deemed illegal, said in a message last week that “Google and Gmail will be filtered nationwide… until further notice.”
Just days later though, the Iranian government quashed the reports. The Iranian government issued a statement saying that the interview with Taghipour was a hoax, which they put on their own website, www.ict.gov.ir and is not accessible outside Iran. The Ministry statement said that the report is in no way confirmed by the Ministry and is completely baseless.
Iranians already have a walled Internet and many Internet users access forbidden sites via Virtual Private Networks or VPNs. Towards the end of February, Iran had blocked off even VPN services, which reports say was timed just ahead of elections. Access to generic sites like Google Docs was cut off. In particular, sites that used Secure Socket Protocol, or in other words, had addresses that contained https:// were affected. The elections took place on March 2 and it had been the first time since 2009 that Iran had a national election. Earlier in February, Iran had disrupted Internet access when the fear of “National Internet” started making the rounds. Back then, too, Taghipour made a statement that there will be a National Internet, which will be a clean Internet. For instance, the search engine would be called Ya Haq, which means “Oh, just one”.
In fact, at the time, the government had started off with the registration to their mail service – Iran Mail. The registration form requires an applicant to fill out details like their name, last name, national ID, address, among other details. The registration will be verified only once when the details of the applicant are verified against the government data.[source : Tech2]