Iran’s highest leader announced that the government will institute a nationwide ban against Telegram, the popular encrypted messaging app, following in the footsteps of Russia.
Iran’s highest leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, announced that his government will institute a nationwide ban against Telegram, the popular encrypted messaging app, by government entities and officials. The Ayatollah made his announcement over Telegram.
The ban mirrors that of the Russian government, which made its announcement on April 12th. Telegram has 40 million users in Iran, out of an approximately 50 million internet users in the country.
Iran’s Supreme Leader (on Twitter as @khamenei_ir -filtered in Iran) announced on his Telegram page ‘https://t.co/aHXGlxNYEB’ this morning that his office will cease using the platform, and directs users to local alternatives like iGap, Soroush, and Gap to follow him #filternet pic.twitter.com/kRm6tCyhTB
— mahsa alimardani 🌒 (@maasalan) April 18, 2018
The official reason given was to combat Telegram’s “monopoly” in the messaging app market of Iran.
The Iranian government had previously banned access to the messaging app, along with Instagram, during the January nationwide protests. At that point, the government specifically stated that the ban was temporary, and in the interest of law and order.
The app is popular with activists, militants, politicians, and news organizations alike as it features “channels” which users can subscribe to and get instant messages from causes that they support. Telegram has also become popular with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency traders.
It is widely believed that the latest ban is a prelude to an imminent service wide, permanent ban. Such a ban would, in part, be to favor local market social media apps, such as iGap, Soroush, and Gap, but also to ensure that the government has complete control over information flow during increasingly turbulent times; all things that the cloud-based instant messaging service Telegram resists.
The app was developed by the London, UK company Telegram Messenger LLP, which was founded by the Russian programming activist supporter and millionaire Pavel Durov. Russian authorities have in the past sought to censor the service, but are yet to succeed.
Within the last two days, Russia blocked over 15 million IP addresses in attempts to ban Telegram on its territory. Regardless, Telegram remained available for the majority of Russia’s residents #digitalresistance https://t.co/2syVbVzXPg
— Pavel Durov (@durov) April 17, 2018
The Russian ban was more widespanning, targeting consumer usage. The government ordered the blocking of IPs to servers that host Telegram’s cloud based systems – these servers came to include US-based servers operated by Google and Amazon, resulting in millions of IP addresses that have been impacted beyond Telegram. Telegram in turn has integrated features which seek to circumvent such IP based bans through the use of so called proxies, and “shadow IPs”.
The last Iranian election saw the re-election of President Hojatoleslam Hassan Rouhani, who campaigned on the promise of more access online, and more freedoms. Keeping Telegram unfiltered in Iran has been considered a personal victory for the President. A victory that now appears the Ayatollah is quickly undermining.
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