Social media access restricted on Iran mobiles: agencies

Henrietta Strickland
January 12, 2018

During the protests, some even reportedly removed passwords to allow more people access to the internet. Authorities are temporarily blocking Telegram and Instagram to "maintain peace", according to the AP.

'Telegram will face increasing pressure over time to collaborate with the Iranian government's demands for this or that, ' Snowden wrote on Twitter.

For the past six days, citizens have taken to the streets across Iran, protesting government oppression and the rising cost of goods.

But also on Saturday, the Iranian telecommunications minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, wrote a message on Twitter to Pavel Durov, the CEO and founder of Telegram. The ICT minister urged Durov to act and stop such encouragements from going on.

While apps like Telegram and Signal are now blocked by the Iranian authorities, WhatsApp remains fully accessible in Iran. Durov also noted that it was not clear whether this was a temporary or permanent decision. One conversation was publicly called out by Iran's Minister of Technology for recommending protesters attack police with Molotov cocktails. Telegram's public channels have played an essential role in broadcasting information to a wide audience, while the encrypted messaging feature has served as a way to disseminate videos and pictures of the deadly clashes. Durov said that channels that promote violence will be closed regardless of the political affiliations that they stand for. But Durov says he refused to take down other peaceful channels.

"Telegram channels are frequently used for organizing protests and for sharing political opinion", said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Iranian officials have filed criminal charges against me back in September for letting Telegram spread "uncensored news" and "extremist propaganda". Telegram, especially, is highly popular in Iran - with more than 50 per cent of the country reported as using the app.

"Iran's own strict regime of internet filters, but also USA sanctions limiting the transfer and sale of technology and security products, are likely contributing factors that mean the choke points are still an effective mechanism for mass control", Toker said.

Since the 2009 Green Movement, more Iranians have access to anti-censorship technology, such as VPNs and proxies, servers that transmit content that can evade government controls.

Nonetheless, media censorship in Iran is a fact of life.

As protests spread across Iran, there is one man who has been fanning the flames of dissent from overseas using an anonymous messaging app.

Last year Durov was forced to deny that Telegram had moved some of its servers to the country - saying rather it had installed some local caching nodes to speed up download times.

"We are proud that Telegram is used by thousands of massive opposition channels all over the world". The government requires that admins running channels with more than 5,000 members register with the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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