Khamenei on a computer screen.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE,REUTERS)
Google and other major Internet companies that have thus far been frozen out of the Iranian market may soon be allowed to operate in the Islamic Republic, AFP reported on Sunday, citing a report from Iran’s Fars News Agency.
Iranian Deputy Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Nasrollah Jahangard told Fars, however, that these companies would have to accept Iran’s cultural rules as a precondition of them entering the market.
“We are not opposed to any of the entities operating in global markets who want to offer services in Iran,” he said. “We are ready to negotiate with them; and if they accept our cultural rules and policies, they can offer their services in Iran.”
He added that Iran could potentially allow Google to open facilities in the country to provide service to the entire region.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been a proponent of loosening tight controls on the Internet in the country.
Speaking in May 2014, Rouhani said Iran should embrace the Internet rather than see it as a threat. He said trying to win the battle for public influence by restricting the Internet was like bringing a wooden sword to a gunfight.
His predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had rounded up bloggers and tightened online controls in an eight-year term, especially after protesters used social media to organize mass street demonstrations in 2009.
Iran has long had a contradictory attitude toward the Internet.
Access to sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube is blocked for most Iranians, but Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself joined Twitter and Facebook in 2009 and is now a prolific user of both.Reuters contributed to this report.