The Iranian Parliament, dominated by conservative lawmakers, has decided to refer a controversial Internet restriction plan to an internal commission in preparation for the approval of the bill which would block Iranians from major social media websites.
The bill, officially called “protecting the rights of cyberspace users”, aims to limit the activity of foreign social networks in Iran, in particular Instagram, which until now has not been blocked.
After a closed session on Wednesday, Iranian lawmakers authorised the Joint Specialized Commission (the Cultural Commission) to approve a pilot plan aimed at restricting social networks, especially Instagram, a measure that would facilitate the implementation of the social media restriction plan.
With 121 votes in favour, 74 against and 9 abstentions, the representatives agreed to refer the plan to the Parliament’s Cultural Commission, in accordance with Article 85 of the Constitution.
This constitutional article allows the Parliament to pass certain laws in its internal commissions in necessary cases, without discussing them in a plenary session of the Parliament and subjecting them to a public vote.
On the basis of the Parliament’s decision, the plan will be reviewed by a specialized parliamentary committee and referred to the Guardian Council, which is overseen by Ayatollah Ahmed Jannati.
If approved by the Guardians of the Constitution, it will be carried out on a trial basis.
The plan, however, has been widely criticised by social media users and even some conservative figures.
Jalil Rahimi Jahanabadi, a member of the Parliament’s National Security Commission, believes the Parliament does not have the right to violate the people’s right to freedom of communication.
He said the approval of the plan will create a chaos and serious anarchy in the Iranian people’s link to the outside world and even among the people themselves.
According to Rahimi, the past experiences including the blocking of Telegram messaging app and the ban on the use of satellite TV prove that such confrontation against technology is not rational and logical.
“These methods have not even worked in countries like North Korea or some Communist states in the Latin America,” he added.