TEHRAN, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Iranian government has blocked the "illegal" VPN (virtual private network) filter pass software which was used here as a means of gaining access to controlled websites.
The move came on Friday following the announcement by the Islamic republic officials in the past days that current VPN services sold by private companies in the market to bypass domestic screening system are "illegal" and users could buy "legal " VPN services provided by the government.
On Feb. 22, semi-official ISNA news agency reported that Iran's National Cyber Space Center had offered "official and legal VPN" service for its users.
The eligible companies and organizations would be able to register for the "legal" VPN software at www.vpn.ir, said the report.
Registration for "legal" VPN services that the government offered would be used for communications with out of the country as is necessary for some organizations, institutions, companies and universities, according to ISNA.
In the meantime, it should not be used for circumventing the filtering system, said the report, adding that if the state- offered VPN is "misused," the case will be prosecuted.
Access to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter has not been possible for the Iranian users without using the VPN since 2009. Also, access to Google and Yahoo services in Iran has become very inconvenient, due to its slow speed, recently.
The Islamic republic has announced that it is planning to launch its own "domestic internet," or as it is alternatively called "clean internet," to safeguard the morality of the Islamic society.
The officials in communication sector of the country have also said that upon the completion of the "national internet" project, the governmental offices will be disconnected from worldwide internet services for cyber security reasons.
Tehran has also undertaken a project to develop a national search engine dubbed "Ya Haq," which can be accessed through the domestic internet.
In December 2011, Iran's deputy minister for communications and information technology said that the Islamic republic had transferred the locations of most of its government websites from foreign-based hosting agencies to new computer facilities inside the country to avert potential cyber attacks.
Ali Hakim Javadi was quoted as saying by Press TV that Iran had moved more than 90 percent of its governmental internet websites from overseas hosting companies to new locations inside the country, adding that the move was "essential to protect governmental data on internet networks."
Non-governmental sectors should also transfer their websites from abroad into the country to further improve the nation's information security, Javadi added.
Earlier, more than 30,000 Iranian websites of key organizations, namely ministries, were hosted by foreign-based companies, mainly in North America.