By “laying down the fiber” and connecting thousands of servers inside Iran, the government would “build on their knowledge of networks and how they operate,” he said, increasing their capabilities to both launch and repel cyberattacks.
“But no matter what you do, there will always be vulnerabilities in a network,” Leighton said.
Both the Obama administration and Internet freedom experts have expressed concern that the launch of the Iranian network could set a precedent for repressive governments across the globe. Reza Taghipour, Iran’s communications and information technology minister, has lauded Iran as a “pioneer” of the idea, hinting that other nations could follow his country’s lead.
“We don’t want governments to believe that it is now legitimate to take a country offline,” explained Brett Solomon, executive director of AccessNow.org, a global digital freedom initiative. “If we look back to the Egyptian revolution, where the regime shut down the free flow of information, you can see how this act could give rise to the creation of a new international norm.”