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Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram amidst protests in the country

12 January 2018, 09:41 | Winifred Adams

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram amidst protests in the country

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram amidst protests in the country

After wishing Telegram users a Happy New Year on his channel, Durov wrote,"On a less joyful note, Iranian authorities started blocking Telegram in Iran today after we publicly refused to shut down channels of peaceful Iranian protesters, such as @sedaiemardom". "Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down [Sedaie Mardom] and other peacefully protesting channels", he tweeted, referring to one of the channels criticised by Iran. Durov said that channels that promote violence will be closed regardless of the political affiliations that they stand for.

The "temporary" restrictions on the apps Telegram and Instagram were imposed to "maintain peace and order" state-run news agency Irib maintained.

Zam, who has said he fled Iran after being falsely accused of working with foreign intelligence services, denied inciting violence on Telegram. Of its 80 million people, an estimated 40 million use the free app created by Russian national Pavel Durov. The end result is a sometimes haphazard system that can still have devastating effects on any service the regime sees as a threat.

However, researchers at Oracle's Internet Intelligence Team, which tracks global internet outages, say that while Iran might selectively block any number of sites from being accessed directly, the only wholesale internet outage in Iran took place on Monday and lasted about 13 minutes. The messaging app has a massive user base there. The channel also apologized for breaking Telegram's terms and conditions.

"Iranian internet users are making use of a wider variety of circumvention tools that allow for selective access to blocked resources", said Alp Toker, founder of NetBlocks.org, a digital rights group.

Iranian internal minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli claimed in a statement that some individuals on social networks were "causing violence and fear".

Iran blocks access to Telegram and Instagram amidst protests in the country

The Iranian government has clamped a nationwide block on the country's most popular encrypted messaging platform Telegram after days of anti-government unrest.

Media censorship in Iran is a fact of life.

It is clear that the government has also been under pressure from the more conservative sections of the political establishment to restrict access.

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. 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.

"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 there is a lot of Government influence on the traditional media, the social media has been very popular in the country.

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