Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Telegram Blocks Anti-Iran Channel for Promoting Violence

Telegram Blocks Anti-Iran Channel for Promoting Violence

Motherboard reported that some Iranians have now resorted to using VPNs to circumvent the government's suppression of information.

Telegram's decision drew criticism from free internet advocates and Iranians.

Iran has made a decision to restrict access to Instagram and Telegram, amidst the country's protests, in order to prevent them being used to organise further acts of dissent against the nation's government.

According to Deputy Head of New Businesses Committee of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ICCIMA) Afshin Kolahi, there are 10,000 to 15,000 totally virtual businesses in Iran. According to Iranian State TV, the government has temporarily blocked the services of these two platforms in a bid to "maintain peace".

Curbing freedom of press, and suspending internet services have, however, not deterred the protesters who are taking to social media to report on the protests, but is it enough?

Instagram declined to respond to a BuzzFeed News question about whether it was actively aiding the Iranian government's censorship.

Certain political officials in the USA, including President Trump, have been misusing the protest rallies in Iran to make accusations against Iran despite the fact that US allies in certain countries in the region including Saudi Arabia are not allowed to make the slightest protest against the ruling systems.

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Take, for example, the Google App Engine, a service meant to be used as a platform for developing and hosting web applications. The messaging app has a massive user base there. The result makes it hard to detect Signal traffic amid the mess of Google requests - but it also means that wherever Google is unavailable, Signal is unavailable too.

On Tuesday Durov wrote on Twitter that while Telegram was being blocked in Iran, a rival messaging app that offers privacy, WhatsApp, was still available there. Google could be anxious that technology would be used by nuclear scientists in a potential violation of sanctions.

In other words, Iranian censors are clearly trying to suppress knowledge of how large (and in some cases violent) the protests have become, as well as disrupt the protesters' ability to organise.

Google declined to comment on its policies regarding the use of its technology in Iran.

"There are many Telegram channels encouraging their subscribers to conduct terrorist operations or corruptive acts", said the minister.

But as the demonstrations grew, Mubarak's government pulled the plug on Twitter, cutting off thousands of Egyptian users from accessing the social media site.

The communication crackdown prompted an online outcry that included President Trump, who posted on Twitter over the weekend that Iran had "closed down the internet so that peaceful demonstrators can not communicate". The government enforced the block through a combination of centralized censorship by the country's Supreme Cybercouncil and local ISP interference to enforce more specific orders. As it is, she said, Iranians have proved to be resourceful in finding ways to communicate.

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