As American Internet users ready a new round of protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act, proposed legislation that many claim will kill the Internet as we know it, Iranian citizens are reminding us that their government still has the edge in Internet censorship.

The Washington Post reported today that Internet cafes in the country received an edict to “install security cameras, start collecting detailed personal information on customers, and document users' online footprints.”

Besides the surveillance of Internet-cafe users, Iran is implementing what it calls “Halal,” a domestic intranet, or internal network, which will block access to many Western websites.

Iran hopes to crack down on dissidents, as last year, surrounding countries were swept up in wave of protests that led to regime changes—something Iran hopes to prevent.

Sites blocked include Facebook and Twitter, social-networking tools used in the Arab uprisings of 2011.

"They want to execute a plan where no one has protection, so they can trace whoever is involved in what they perceive as antigovernment activity at any given moment and at any location," Ehsan Norouzi, an Iranian cybersecurity expert, told the Washington Post.

Ali Aqamohammadi, the head of Iranian economic affairs, called the “Halal Intranet” an “internet that conforms to Islamic principles” that is “aimed at Muslims on a ethical and moral level.” 

Photo by dougcurran