Just last month, Russia blocked the messaging application Telegram by way of restricting access to about 15.8 million belonging to Amazon and Google’s cloud platforms. This meant that not only was Telegram banned, but a number of other websites using these hosting services were caught up in the crossfire as well. Now Iran is blocking Telegram as well, but it doesn’t appear it will turn out as messy as it did in Russia. Iran isn’t going to be blocking IP addresses, rather the installing of the application.
Without blocking IP addresses, it’s a wonder just how well Telegram can actually be blocked in the country from its 40 million users. Iran has been pushing the closed-source, state-owned Soroush messaging application, which citizens fear may be spying on its users. What’s more, some of its built-in stickers and emoji are less than tasteful. One example is a woman carrying a sign which says “Death to America.” In order to block free competitors (like Telegram), the National Cyberspace Center of Iran withdrew Telegram’s license to operate in the country. Not only that, judiciary website Mizan quoted a court order saying, “All Internet providers in Iran must take steps to block Telegram’s website and app as of April 30.” It’s unknown to what extent it will be blocked, and if other websites will be caught in the crossfire in the future just like in Russia, but the ban comes just days after government officials were also barred from using it.
This isn’t the first time Iran has banned a social media platform. Earlier this year Iran temporarily banned both the aforementioned messaging application and Instagram, citing that they were doing so to “maintain peace” after they were used extensively to communicate during anti-government protests. They were later unblocked after the protests had died down. For now, users should still be able to install the application through a VPN and use it safely, but it’s unknown how the ban will change over time.