Iran on Monday followed Russia’s example by banning the popular messaging app Telegram citing the app’s impact on national security and to help quell the protests that have recently swept through that nation.
The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), Iran’s official news agency reported on April 30 that the Tehran Public and Revolutionary Court issued a decree blocking the service which allows for encrypted messaging service. The app claims to have more than 200 million users with the Wall Street Journal stating more than 40 million, or half of Iran’s population, uses the app.
“Telegram created suitable room for illegal activities of terrorist groups in which Daesh terrorists conducted two separate military operations in the Iranian parliament and the second one on Imam Khomeni mausoleum last year claiming lives of 17 and injured scores of others. Telegram also played a leading role in last year’s unrests claiming lives of citizens and injuring others while incurring huge financial loses to public assets,” the IRNA reported.
The app is often used by protesters hide the organization of events from the government, although several reports noted that the Iranian government is also a Telegram fan using the software for various nefarious activities.
In response to the ban, Iranians have taken to the streets in protest tossing paper airplanes. Telegram’s logo is a paper airplane, reported Al Arabiya news.
On April 2 the Russian government took Telegram to court in Moscow in an attempt to stop or limit access to the app in that country after the company refused a request by the government to turn over its encryption keys to the FSB. Telegram was then officially banned on April 13.