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Iran has announced plans to implement the first phase of a "National Internet" in late August.

Authorities have described the initiative as an effort to "better manage national emails and information gathering within the country and to improve security," according to a report by the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders.

Rights advocates believe the project is the latest element in a longstanding campaign to strengthen censorship and surveillance inside Iran, and have described it as an effort to impose a self-contained "intranet" inside the country.

The Iranian government ruthlessly seeks to control information transmission and communication both inside and outside the country's borders. It has stood up a "cyber army" to combat unauthorized Internet use and labeled social media networks as subversive, prosecuting bloggers along with independent journalists.

Radio Farda, RFE's Persian-language service, reported last week that the regime had opened a Facebook page mimicking its own to discredit it and confuse visitors.

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