The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday that Iran plans to roll out a national email service for local citizens while placing Google's email service on permanent suspension. The news comes at the heels of a heated conflict between Google and China, with the search engine threatening to pull out due to Chinese censorship. The dispute is also at the heart of a recent cyber-attack involving Google's Chinese branch and many other companies.
Wednesday's announcement came from Iran's telecommunications agency, announcing that the move is a step towards building trust between the government and the people. The measure is also to boost the local development of technology. However there may be suspicions in the U.S. State Department. Officials said Wednesday that efforts to keep information from Iranians would fail.
"While information technologies are enabling people around the world to communicate … like never before, the Iranian government seems determined to deny its citizens access to information, the ability to express themselves freely, network and share ideas," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.
The banning of Gmail may be one part of Iran's overall crackdown on supporters and leaders of Iran's opposition. The government has already shown that it will track down the opposition on Facebook, Twitter, and other websites. Implementing a local, government-controlled email system could mean intense censorship for the Iranian people.