Iran Blocks Telegram After Dissidents Use It To Organize Protests

An Iranian court issued an order to block Telegram after the government raised the issue of the app being a national security threat. Telegram has been used by dissidents in the country to organize protests.

Russia Blocks Telegram

A few weeks ago, the Russian government ordered its ISPs to block Telegram because the company wouldn’t give away the encryption keys that would allow the government to intercept anyone’s messages.

Telegram responded by hiding its service behind Google, Amazon, and Microsoft servers. As the Russian government was still attempting to block any use of Telegram, it ended up blocking millions of IP addresses from those cloud services providers, which then resulted in many other foreign and local services being blocked in the country, too. Russia is still struggling to block Telegram, weeks later.

Yesterday, over 12,000 protesters marched through Moscow to demand that Telegram be unblocked.

One protester told Reuters:

Putin’s regime has declared war on the internet, has declared war on free society... so we have to be here in support of Telegram.

Iran Blocks Telegram, Too

Earlier this January, the Iranian government issued a temporary order to block Telegram as well, after dissidents used it to organize protests. The court agreed with the government that the protests represented a national security threat, and therefore the app needed to be blocked.

According to judiciary website Mizan, the court said:

Those actions included propaganda against the establishment, terrorist activities, spreading lies to incite public opinion, anti-government protests and pornography.

The Iranian government recently launched its own alternative to Telegram, called Soroush, and the government been encouraging its citizens to switch to it. However, according to Reuters, many believe that the app will allow for unferreted government spying against them.

Iranian citizens may be able to continue using Telegram if they use various VPN services or alternative DNS resolvers. Alternatively, they could start looking for other options that aren’t in the government’s crosshairs right now, such Signal, Riot, or Keybase, all of which feature end-to-end encryption.