Iran protests: Telegram and Instagram restricted

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Eventually violence erupted in some of Iran's major cities, including capital Tehran, as citizens took to the streets, with some videos showing people reportedly chanting "death to the dictator", according to Reuters. "In the last week it has become a key source of information about the protests".

Whether Telegram can continue to walk this line and successfully avoid a permanent block in Iran remains to be seen.

January 1, 2018 (EIRNS)-With protests continuing in Iran for a fourth day, smaller than those of 2009 and some involving armed demonstrators, recommendations for caution from experts on the region are not being heeded by the Trump Administration.

The Telegram app closed a channel run by Roohallah Zam after Iranian authorities complained that it was inciting violence, just hours before the government shut down the app entirely on Sunday.

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi

According to the BBC, restrictions to access Telegram and Instagram apps were imposed to 'maintain tranquillity'. However, when the Iranian government requested Telegram suspend channels that had not violated its ToS, Telegram refused, citing that they were "peaceful Iranian protesters".

Since the 2009 Green Movement, more Iranians have access to anti-censorship technology, such as VPNs and proxies, servers that transmit content that can evade government controls.

But the activists, many of them students, found a technological loophole to stay connected and spread their message using the peer-to-peer "mesh messaging" app FireChat.

After violence flared in many places on Saturday, it is unclear how many demonstrations are occurring on Sunday.

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But Google believes that it is not allowed to offer its Google App Engine in Iran because of the sanctions. That too has made it a worry of Iranian authorities. Google could be anxious that technology would be used by nuclear scientists in a potential violation of sanctions.

Mr. Anderson argued that Google could white list, or unblock, certain applications like Signal.

Nonetheless, media censorship in Iran is a fact of life.

"Telegram channels are frequently used for organizing protests and for sharing political opinion", said Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Not quite of a surprise that, but it's an action that has drawn reaction from the U.S. government.

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The communication crackdown prompted an online outcry that included President Trump, who posted on Twitter over the weekend that Iran had "closed down the internet so that peaceful demonstrators can not communicate".

With more communication technologies available to Iranians, they are more regulated and less open than they were in 2009, says Toker. Reports from inside the country claim that the government began blocking Internet access on December 30 in an attempt to prevent protesters from communicating with each other.

"Where there is a will, there is a way", Ms. Dagres said.

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