The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used the website associated with the preservation and publication of the works of the Supreme Leader announced that it would stop its activities on Telegram, essentially eliminating any use of the application. The reason given was based on safeguarding national interests, while addressing what the regime considers a monopoly by Telegram.
Nationally based options are receiving the support of the regime, as it attempts to tamp down on a communication option that has provided the Iranian people an option to organize without being tracked as frequently by the regime. In response, it appears that the regime is clamping down even further on foreign based apps.
On Tuesday, Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, secretary of the taskforce involved in screening online websites for criminal content, announced a number of conditions and requirements would be put in place for all foreign messaging apps that want to continue to operate within Iran.
The first requirement is that foreign apps need to get permission from Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. It is clearly the first step in the regime being able to monitor that app and its use by the Iranian people. Other conditions include requiring those apps to save and process all data for Iranian users within the borders of Iran, while ensuring the privacy and security of the users, and keep a permanent representative within Iran.
“We have on several occasions offered to Telegram to continue its operations as per Iranian regulations, but it has refused to accept,” said Khoramabadi. He indicated that the use of Telegram is likely to be blocked within days due to its refusal to conform. Other applications may also face the same treatment by the regime in coming days.
After the Supreme Leader’s announcement, other Iranian officials throughout the regime have switched to domestic communications apps and have closed their accounts with Telegram.
For those who observe the actions of the regime, this move against Telegram and other apps is a sign of the fundamentalist regime’s continuing fear of an uprising of the Iranian people. Tightening their grip on communications is meant to allow them to more effectively track the movements of the Iranian people and identify anyone that could be seen as a leader of potential protests. While they hide behind a need to break up a monopoly, the reality is that the regime is punishing Telegram for the risk its communication app is to the mullahs and their regime.