The popular messaging app Telegram has been all over the news lately, although probably not in the way they’d like.
It’s already popped up as the contact number in Daesh’s (ISIS) hostage ads and been the subject of an Iranian government crackdown on “immoral” emojis so far this year—now it appears that the Iranian government has been trying to use the app as a surveillance tool to monitor some 13 million users in Iran.
In a recent tweet, Telegram founder Pavel Durov announced that the Iranian government asked his company for backdoor access to user data in Iran.
@CDA Iranian ministry of ICT demanded that @telegram provided them with spying and censorship tools. We ignored the demand, they blocked us.— Pavel Durov (@durov) October 20, 2015
Tehran shot back at the tweet by blocking the application country-wide for two hours. Even now, Iran-based users are reporting continued service issues, as Telegram is “throttled,” or censored by reducing the accessibility speed.
According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, dozens of Iranian social media users are now in prison serving lengthy sentences, just for participating in Telegram’s online community.
This is hardly the first time social media’s been squashed in the country—the rise of Telegram itself happened partly as a more secure alternative to the popular messaging app Viber.
Or, to sum up:
Evening, @Jack. As I told @camanpour, my efforts geared 2 ensure my ppl'll comfortably b able 2 access all info globally as is their #right.— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) October 1, 2013
@HassanRouhani thank you. Please let us know how we can help to make it a reality.— Jack (@jack) October 1, 2013
Meanwhile, this September, Iranian religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei made his hardline Supreme Cyberspace Council the single controlling power of Internet censorship and blocking policies, so Telegram probably won’t be the last to face problems.
By Elizabeth Tarbell