Servers and websites hosted inside Iran
A second central security concern is the intention to transfer all servers and the hosting of Iranian websites to Iran—a move explicitly stated as one of the main objectives of the NIN.
Jahangard told Jahan Eghtesad Newspaper that the reason for the transfer is to reduce internet costs: “From an economics point of view, transferring this volume of data traffic into the country, as well as hosting the websites inside the country, will lead to a reduction of the cost of the transferred network, and for example, the user can receive a movie or a file faster, with higher quality, and at a cheaper price.”
It is true that these conditions will deliver faster and cheaper online access to Iranian users. It will also severely degrade user security: placing servers inside Iran or hosting Iranian websites inside Iran allows state access to the content of those websites and their user accounts.
For example, if instead of using Gmail an individual uses the Iranian email package Chapar, because Chapar stores data from its users inside Iran, whenever security officials wish, they can receive the entire content of that individual’s emails.
Similarly, if news websites or blogs are hosted inside Iran, when they post articles disapproved of by the authorities they can be shut down and their entire data can be deleted by the state. After the Memari News website published documents about corruption at the Tehran Municipality, the secretariat of the committee to determineinstances of crime ordered the managing director of the Shatel Company, which hosted the Memari News website, to delete all of the website’s content from the internet.
In March 2015, at a meeting to evaluate the issues and challenges facing OTT and domestic social media, then Minister Mahmoud Vaezi confirmed the issue and stated that managers of these companies have privately told him, “Many Iranians prefer to have their servers managed abroad to ensure that in case of filtering, they would not lose data belonging to their foreign customers.”