The Iranian government appears to be preparing to institute a national Telegram ban just days after Russia banned Telegram. Earlier this year, Iran temporarily banned Telegram and Instagram during widespread protests in January. Telegram, an encrypted messaging application that also has channels often used by official bodies such as news organizations or even government entities, has 40 million users in Iran, a country where approximately 50 million people have access to the Internet.
In a public announcement on Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said government agencies would no longer use Telegram, in an effort to curb Telegram's "monopoly." As a testimony of Telegram's monopoly, Khamenei posted this message on his Telegram channel.
The Guardian reports that the announcement also says: "This move comes before the plans of the authorities to block Telegram and aims to support domestic social media applications." Although the message seems to indicate an impending ban, Mahsa Alimardani, a researcher at Article 19 and a doctoral student at the Oxford Internet Institute who studies the Internet in Iran, says it is not at all clear that the Iranian government is really going to close it.
Alimardani said that "it definitely seems more likely than all the other times." He has followed the situation closely for years, and although he has "passed deliberation on the filtering committee several times since January 2015," he has not arrived. to anything yet
The Iranian government, he said, had been especially vocal in communicating that the ban in January 2018 was only temporary. "The [Rouhani administration] was chosen with promises of more freedoms and online access, and the best achievement of this moderate administration was to keep Telegram unfiltered," said Alimardani.
For now, the government is trying to alienate Telegram users and other local platforms, such as iGap, Soroush and Gap.
Meanwhile, Telegram's own Russian ban has had a disastrous start, with the government blocking the IPs belonging to Google and Amazon cloud services based in the United States, among others. As a result, millions of IP addresses have been affected beyond Telegram. Whether Iran will take a similar route remains to be seen.