Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic internet network in what is being officially touted as a bid to enhance cyber security, but which many Iranians fear is the latest way to control their web access.
The announcement, made by a government deputy minister yesterday, came as state television announced the blocking "within a few hours" of Google Inc's search engine and its email service.
An official identified only by his last name, Khoramabadi, said Google and Gmail would be filtered througout the country until further notice, though he gave no details.
According to the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA), the ban on Google was linked to the anti-Islamic film posted on the company's You Tube site that cause outrage across the muslim world.
Iran has put in place the most extensive system of filters by any country in the world, preventing normal Iranians from accessing countless sites on the official grounds they were offensive or criminal.
Many Iranians believed, though that the block on sites such as Facebook and YouTube was due to their use in anti-government protests following the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in 2009.