Pavel Durov’s Telegram messaging application is having a bit of a rough ride this month. First, Russia banned it, and now Iran has banned it. The two countries are some of the app’s biggest markets with about 40 million users in Iran alone. After Russia banned the app many found a way to gain access via proxies, however, Iran claims to have found a way to stop similar proxies.
The Iranian judiciary is concerned about Telegram for several reasons which pertain to security, cultural and economic issues. For example, it believes that Telegram operates with a disregard for the country’s laws; it’s concerned that Iranian users’ data is processed and stored outside the country; and it says that it’s causing economic damage by pursuing its own cryptocurrency which goes against Iranian banking regulations. On the security front, the country blames the app for acting as a medium for “provoking chaos and riots” and played a “pivotal” role in recent protests which saw fatalities and injuries.
Over the last few years, Telegram has been accused of allowing ISIS to proliferate their content on the platform. The firm responded by shutting down thousands of channels, however, terrorists were still able to use the app in order to attack the Iranian parliament and the Imam Khomeini mausoleum last year in which 17 people died.
It’ll be interesting to see how Pavel Durov responds this time. In response to the Russian ban he urged users to throw paper aeroplanes from their windows at home, which many did, and yesterday 12,000 protesters amassed in Moscow to support internet freedom and Telegram – many participants threw paper aeroplanes there too.