In the footsteps of Russia: Iran has banned the Telegram

В Иране набирает силу

In the footsteps of Russia: Iran has banned the Telegram

It is likely to reinforce concerns about freedom of expression and other basic rights in Iran, where Telegram has been used widely by ordinary citizens as well as politicians, companies, and state media outlets.

On Sunday, the Iranian Education Ministry issued a directive banning the use of foreign-made messaging apps, including Telegram, at the county's public schools.

Anyone in breach of the order "will be considered in violation with the judicial order and prosecuted", the news agency said.

As Moscow erupts in protests over its own ban, Iran's judiciary has just ordered the nation's telecommunications providers to block Telegram .

As the Russian government learned, however, blocking Telegram isn't necessarily that easy. An estimated 40 million Iranians - half of the country's population - use Telegram to communicate. On December 31, 2017, Tehran blocked the messenger amid nationwide protests in the country. Government employees were also ordered to stop using it.

A court order said that Telegram has become a "safe [place] for committing different types of crimes", adding that there are "thousands of open cases" related to its use and that Telegram has not cooperated with judiciary officials, Mizanonline reported. But instead of flocking to domestic messaging apps, "30 million" people used circumvention tools-such as virtual private networks (VPNs) that enable users to access blocked sites-to continue to use Telegram, according to Member of Parliament (MP) Mahmoud Sadeghi. Despite this, dozens of state officials use these apps to reach domestic and foreign audiences, sometimes maintaining accounts in multiple languages including English, Farsi and Arabic.

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